Daniel Farke put the brakes on summer interest in one of Leeds United’s most consistent stars so far this season with the Whites boss convinced the player would come come good after a year of struggles at Elland Road.
The Yorkshire outfit were relegated from the Premier League after a desperate season that saw them swing from one manager to another before ultimately finishing the campaign with a miserable seven wins from their 38 games and picking up just 31 points in the process.
As a result, it was no surprise to see Leeds lose a plethora of players from their squad once relegation was confirmed with 15 players departing Elland Road over the summer.
Several of those departed Leeds thanks to relegation clauses in their contracts, with many departing on loan in a bid to help push up their values with regards future sales. However, Leeds – with new owners 49ers Enterprises in control – did make an effort to retain the services of some of their leading lights; a battle they were ultimately destined to lose with all of Jack Harrison, Luis Sinisterra and Tyler Adams sealing moves elsewhere.
One man who they did make an forceful effort to keep though was Willy Gnonto with the Italy star not one of those players whose deals contained an escape clause. And when Everton came knocking, Leeds held firm – after admittedly some resistence from the player – to resist all the Toffees threw at them.
Another star who could have moved on was Pascal Struijk, with the 24-year-old the subject of an offer from Club Brugge.
They finished fourth in the Jupiler Pro League last season, booking a place in the UEFA Conference League in the process.
Farke ordered Leeds to reject Pascal Struijk transfer offer
The offer from the Belgian side was reportedly worth around €7.5m (£6.5m), with the move potentially have been of interest to the defender given their offer of European football.
Indeed, having been used infrequently in his preferred central defensive role last season and often utilised as a makeshift left-back, Struijk could have been forgiven for pushing to make the move back to the country of his birth.
Instead, and enthused by new boss Farke’s plans for him and the team, Struijk did not agitate for the move, instead opting to stay.
Explaining why Farke was so keen to retain his services, Leeds United oracle Phil Hay wrote in The Athletic:
“Leeds suspected that he might be one of the names who sought to leave over the summer, to avoid stepping back down into the Championship, and an approach for him was made by Belgium’s Club Brugge in July.
“But Farke was in the building by then and told Leeds that they would be better off keeping Struijk. Perhaps at that early stage, he was already seeing how the 24-year-old Dutchman would fit.”
Farke’s faith in Struijk has since been rewarded with the centre-half completing all 900 minutes of the club’s 10 Championship matches so far. Part of a defence that has kept five clean sheets in their last six matches, Struijk has also scored three goals so far and helped the Whites climb to sixth in the table with just two defeats so far.
Next up for the Whites and Struijk is a second Championship match of the season at home to Bristol City on Saturday. With the Robins winning away at Rotherham on Wednesday night, Struijk will be hoping for another clean sheet to add to the collection.