Championship Player Focus 2018/19: Is Mateusz Klich the answer to Leeds' striking problems this weekend?

Championship Player Focus 2018/19: Is Mateusz Klich the answer to Leeds' striking problems this weekend?
Alex Wrigley
Alex Wrigley
September 14, 2018
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Content Editor at Free Super Tips, Alex was born in the shadow of Old Trafford and is an avid Man Utd fan. After graduating from university he combined his love of football, writing and betting to join FST and now closely follows goings-on in all of the top European leagues.

After a disappointing start to his Leeds career, attacking midfielder Mateusz Klich returned to the club after a loan spell in Holland and has been in fine form along with the rest of the team under Marco Bielsa. With the club currently in an attacking injury crisis, this article will explore Klich’s career and debate whether he can step up even more than he has done over the next few games.

Read more: Will Marcelo Bielsa’s Past Catch Up With Leeds?

Early Career

Klich made his debut for Polish top-flight side Cracovia at the age of 18 in the 2008/09 season. before becoming a regular in the side the following campaign. In 2011, after two seasons in which he had scored five goals in 50 appearances for Cracovia and made his debut for the Polish national side, he transferred to German side Wolfsburg’s reserve, becoming Cracovia’s most expensive export in a £1.5m deal.

However, Klich failed to settle and transferred to Eredivisie side PEC Zwolle two years later in a 200,000 euros deal. It was at Zwolle where showcased his talent once more, scoring six times in 48 matches and lifting the KNVB Cup with a majestic 5-1 win over Ajax. During his time at Zwolle, he also notched his first international goal in a 3-2 friendly win against Denmark.

Consequently, Wolfsburg exercised a buy-back clause in 2014 but he failed to break into the team once more and was moved on to German second division team Kaiserslautern, which also proved a fruitless move for him. The Eredivise called and he moved back to Twente for the 2016/17. After a positive season, where he scored eight times and assisted six goals, he transferred to Leeds in 2017 for an undisclosed fee.

False Dawn at Leeds

After making a couple of appearances for Leeds at the start of the 2017/18 season, Klich soon found himself behind players like Kalvin Phillips to get into the team. Indeed, it was a slip against Cardiff in the Championship that led to a goal, on his only start, which led to him being permanently dropped by manager Thomas Christiansen.

He was subsequently loaned out, once again to the Eredivisie, this time with FC Utrecht. In his six month spell, he performed excellently in the league once more. In fact, the number of chances he created against Hercales Almelo, which came to 11, was the highest total seen in the league since Christian Eriksen in 2012. He scored his only goal for the club on the final day that allowed the club to get into the Europa League play-off places. After the season, he stated he had “unfinished business” at Leeds and returned for the new season.

Read More: Championship Outright Betting Statistics & Trends

Promise fulfilled under Bielsa

Klich has certainly come back to England with a vengeance, scoring three times and assisting once in his first six matches under new manager Marco Bielsa. These include goals against Norwich, Stoke and Derby County to cement himself as a fan’s favourite early in the season. Klich has stated Bielsa has “opened his eyes” during his spell in charge of Leeds and that he has matured significantly over the past four years.

Moreover, he was recalled to the Polish national team set-up for the first time in four games in recent games against Italy and Ireland. Klich rewarded this decision by the manager with an equalising goal against Ireland in the most recent friendly, after coming on as a substitute. Thus, it is shaping up to be a fantastic season for Klich domestically and internationally.

Klich vs Millwall

It could be a difficult afternoon for Leeds, with a number of influential attacking players injured. Striker Patrick Bamford and Kemar Roofe are out, as is playmaker Pablo Hernandez. This means Klich will have to become the lynchpin of the team in their absence and be the conductor to their attacking play. He will be crucial in trying to pick out passes that will break down a tough Millwall defence.

Klich will play alongside Samuel Saiz in the middle of midfield in Bielsa’s favoured 4-1-4-1 formation, with license to roam and pick up balls at the edge of the box to either push out wide, feed a striker, or have a shot, as he showed against Derby. Against a rigid Millwall team who will press Leeds quickly, Klich will have to be prepared for a fiery match in which physicality and fast releasing of the ball will be key.

Without Roofe or Bamford, it is looking like 19-year old Tyler Roberts will make his first ever start in the Championship at some point during this match, whether starting or coming off the bench. He made his Wales national team debut recently and will be full of confidence. However, he is still raw and inexperienced and will need players like Klich to guide him on what attacking runs to make, as well as keep his head up if things do not go his way.

Read more: Millwall vs Leeds Predictions, Betting Tips and Match Previews

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