Robin Koch has confirmed he will be sidelined until March next year after suffering a knee injury during Leeds United’s defeat to Chelsea on Saturday evening – with Leeds themselves confirming he had undergone an operation in London on Tuesday. It is a massive blow to Leeds, with one obvious solution.
Diego Llorente replaced Koch in the ninth minute – and with the German confirming to newspaper Bild that he is looking to return by March when his country are next in action, Llorente is the obvious replacement. But here are three other ways in which Leeds can replace Koch.
A back three?
Bielsa has used a three-man defence on occasion. Certainly, he has the personnel to try such a system if he thinks that without Koch, Leeds need more protection defensively. Luke Ayling is able to play in the middle of the defence and he could slot in on the right of a three, while Liam Cooper is left-footed and can play on the left – with Llorente in the middle. More solid, but it reduces a midfielder.
Llorente was decent against Chelsea when he came on but what was glaringly obvious is that Llorente does not boast an enormous amount of speed. Next to Cooper, neither of them would be able to cope with a Timo Werner – for example. So perhaps instead of Llorente being the obvious choice, could bringing in Struijk give Leeds the speed they require at centre-back to replace Koch?
Ezequiel Garay continues to remain without a club after being released by Valencia in the summer. An Argentina international, he came through the ranks at Marcelo Bielsa’s first love – Newell’s Old Boys. Brazil international Bruno Uvini – formerly of Napoli – is also a free agent at the age of 29, while Croatian defender Jozo Simunovic still remains without a club after being released by Celtic. But Leeds do have options and are unlikely to go down this route.