Cooper believes Leeds defender can become ‘one of the best around’

Jason Soutar
Liam Cooper hugs Luke Ayling

Liam Cooper believes his Leeds United team-mate Pascal Struijk has the potential to be “one of the best centre-backs” in the world.

Struijk has become an important player under Marcelo Bielsa since the Whites’ promotion to the Premier League in 2020.

He has made 50 appearances for the Yorkshire club since joining from Ajax in 2018, scoring on one occasion.

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His fine performances for Leeds has gained him some terrific praise from the club’s captain Cooper, who believes Struijk has great potential.

“Pascal has absolutely everything to be one of the best centre-backs out there, he really has,” Cooper said (quotes via The Boot Room).

“He’s unbelievable on the ball, he’s strong, good in the air.

“I always knew. We all know now. His improvement speaks for itself.”

Back in September, Struijk revealed that his team-mates have compared him to Liverpool’s star defender Virgil van Dijk.

On his compatriot, the Leeds man said: “In my opinion yeah [best in the world]. I think he’s just very complete all round, he’s very calm on the ball, has a good pass, can surprise, good aerial, quick – there are a lot of points for me that are really good to have as a centre-half.”

When asked about reaching the heights of van Dijk, Struijk added: “I’ve seen some things but I’m not there yet and if I want to be there I have a lot of improvements to do.

“They did sometimes call me ‘Virg’ but I prefer my own name.

“I think for me yes [calmness on the ball is important] it’s very important because it shows confidence when someone is on the ball and as well having a good pass on you that can help the team, surprise the opponent.”

Elsewhere, Tottenham sent a contract prepared for Luis Diaz to Rodrigo Bentancur during their attempts to sign both players before the transfer deadline, according to reports.

The move for Porto winger Diaz was hijacked by Liverpool after Spurs had a deal in place.

And Portuguese newspaper Record claim that the contract sent to Bentancur had Luis Diaz’s name on it as they rushed to seal a deal for the Juventus midfielder in a transfer gaffe on deadline day.