When Marcelo Bielsa arrived at Elland Road, Mateusz Klich was very much our fourth-choice centre-mid, and Noel Whelan has told Football Insider that he is lucky it did not lead to his sale.
Klich’s debut campaign with the Whites last season was far from perfect, and with Ronaldo Vieira still at Thorp Arch and Adam Forshaw yet to suffer a broken foot, opportunities to turn things around seemed very slim.
In fact, Klich himself had insisted he wanted to leave the club right up until the final week of pre-season, when he suddenly went from last in the pecking order to the top of the tree.
It’s hard to imagine where we would be right now had Klich’s efforts led to his sale, as the 28-year-old has been a mainstay of the side this season, to the point he has never missed a starting XI.
The Polish midfielder has also played the second-most minutes of any Whites ace, making him very much a Bielsa man despite his rocky start to life under the Argentine.
Klich’s role in the heart of midfield has not gone unnoticed by Whelan, who has hailed the 17-cap international’s tenacious approach to each game.
“He’s been a revelation this year,” Whelan said. “[I] didn’t really manage to see a lot of him last year to really give you a fine gauge on how much he’s improved, but this season he’s been integral, from the start of the season when he got his goal against Stoke.
“He seems lively, he’s creative, he’s very positive, he gets into great areas, runs in behind defences and he’s a permanent fixture this season under Bielsa.
“I think he was about fourth-choice, down the pecking order, and he was very lucky that he was going to be here, because he was going to be sold in the summer but right now, [I’m] glad he hadn’t, because he’s having a successful season on the field, and hopefully that will continue until the end of the season.”
Beyond Klich’s eight goals and eight assists in the Championship this season, the 6 ft ace has played 55 key passes, intercepted the ball on 19 occasions, and has completed 71% of his dribbles.