Mateusz Klich has been a mainstay of the Leeds United side ever since Marcelo Bielsa took charge. Signed by Victor Orta, the Poland international struggled in his first season and was loaned to FC Utrecht and having returned from The Netherlands – it was expected that the midfielder would be thrown on the Elland Road scrapheap. Certainly, he would not have been the first of Orta’s Leeds signings.
Orta was responsible for questionable moves to sign the likes of Pawel Cibicki, Jay-Roy Grot, Yosuke Ideguchi and even Ouasim Bouy – who is still contracted to the club. Klich was signed at the same time as these flops, and there was danger he would be another example on that list. But Bielsa showed faith where others did not – and he has since become crucial.
The 30-year-old midfielder played 93 of the 94 Championship fixtures under Bielsa. Only in a dead rubber against Derby, having already secured promotion to the Premier League, did Bielsa decide to give the ex-Wolfsburg ace a rest. A well-deserved one, at that. But the Premier League has caught up with Klich, becoming less consistent – and he has lost his starting spot.
Hooked at half-time against West Ham, Klich has been used as a substitute against Chelsea and Fulham. Commenting on his drop out of the side and indeed, his drop in form while on international duty, Klich told Polish newspaper Sportowe Fakty that niggling injuries and constant intensity under the guidance of Bielsa are beginning to take their toll.
“I admit that yes, that’s why I’ve been resting more in the club lately,” Klich said. “I started two matches on the bench. Over the last three years I have “loaded” some of these games, and I have not had any holidays. Fortunately, I was avoiding serious injuries, but minor ones started to happen to me. From overload, from intensity.
“My joints don’t hurt yet, I’m only 30 years old, but something hurts. At the club, we also train very hard between meetings, so it’s hard to regain freshness. I hope to catch my breath, because I have the best matches when I am physically prepared.”
If intensity is catching him up, where does Klich’s future lie?
In terms of his contract, Klich is sorted for the next three years. He has a deal at Elland Road until the summer of 2024 and while it is well-deserved, it is probably a year or two too long, given Klich will be 34 by the time it expires. But in terms of Klich’s immediate future, the intensity is catching up with him and if that continues – his starting spot will go to.
Tyler Roberts has impressed, Rodrigo is a club-record signing and Stuart Dallas did well in that role again on Friday night. Leeds almost signed Michael Cuisance last summer and wanted Rodrigo De Paul – and it is an area likely to be looked at in the summer, meaning Klich is only going to fall further down the pecking order.
Are his comments the start of the end? He has been an excellent servant to Leeds, but perhaps he has past his best and he might only be a squad player from here on in…