Pascal Stuijk’s emergence into Marcelo Bielsa’s plans has proved Kalvin Phillips 2020 prediction right.
The Dutchman has featured in every match of Leeds United’s campaign so far with another cameo in the 3-0 win over Crewe Alexandra after making 27 appearances for United in their Premier League return last season.
Struijk opened his account for the club in the 4-2 defeat to Arsenal earlier this year.
After signing in 2018 from AFC Ajax’s U19s, it has been a steady rise into the first-team set up as he made just five appearances for the Whites in their league-winning season.
But in unseen, deleted footage from the Leeds United documentary Take Us Home on Amazon Prime, Phillips made a statement which has become incredibly prescient.
“Here, I’ll tell you what, he’s the next big thing. I’m telling you now. Next big thing. Look at me, right, I’m big, I’m big right, look at him [Struijk] he plays my position, he’s a tank, absolute tank. Watch out, watch out I swear because I’m looking over my shoulder.”
The absence of Phillips was felt after he was given an extended break from the fold as he recovered from his integral part in England’s run to the European Championships final.
Although Phillips’ presence was missed, evident in the 5-1 opening day defeat, Struijk has continued to be in and around Marcelo Bielsa‘s plans, but appears to have nailed down a position in the squad, as opposed to last season when he switched between central defence and defensive midfield.
Typically a centre-back, the Dutchman has been utilised in the number six role and enjoyed a successful start to life in the English top-flight despite being hauled off inside half an hour against Aston Villa during only his third Premier League appearance.
The Whites travel to Burnley this weekend hoping to pick up their first league win of the campaign. Last time out in the 2-2 draw with Everton, Struijk 22-year-old featured alongside captain Liam Cooper.