Former Leeds United striker Noel Whelan believes that Robin Koch can continue to shine in a midfield role for the Whites moving forward.
Leeds lost 2-0 away to Brighton on Saturday afternoon in what was a rare off-day after an impressive recent run of form. Koch took up a defensive midfield role in the absence of Kalvin Phillips, performing solidly despite the disappointing nature of the result as he won 11 duels and five tackles.
Koch tipped to continue as midfield option
Speaking to Football Insider, Whelan claimed that the ‘magnificent’ 24-year-old could carry on being an option in midfield for Marcelo Bielsa, as well as his preferred centre-back position. The pundit said:
“I’ve seen enough from Koch to suggest he could play that role long-term. Even though he has only played in that position a couple of times you can see that he has the capabilities to do it. I have no doubt about that.
“He was competitive in midfield against Brighton. He was getting on the ball and trying to find space.
“I felt sorry for him though because it is difficult to gauge whether he can play in that role long-term when everyone else is playing below par. I cannot be 100 per cent confident that he can understudy for Phillips on that performance because everyone around him was a six out of 10 and some of them not even that.
“Could Koch step into an international’s role? The signs are encouraging. I think he has all of the attributes.”
Transfer Tavern take
While Koch can fill in at the base of midfield when required, it is still important that Leeds sign a more natural backup to Phillips, as has been rumoured in recent days. The German has his limitations in that position, only keeping possession 79% of the time against Brighton and playing no key passes on what was his first appearance in defensive midfield for Bielsa’s side this season.
Phillips, in comparison, averages an 84.8% pass completion rate and 1.3 key passes per match this season – if he were to get injured for a long period in 2021/22, Koch wouldn’t really be a reliable enough deputy over a sustained period despite Whelan’s endorsement.
In other news, Leeds are believed to be interested in signing an alternative to one player this summer. Read more here.
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