Marcelo Bielsa has been hailed for his impact on the group of players assembled at Elland Road, after turning a mid-table crop into a team fighting for promotion.
But a key part of that team nearly missed the chance to work wonders in West Yorkshire this season, as the boss has revealed, via quotes by Leeds Live, that Mateusz Klich had sought to secure a shock exit in the summer.
At the time, we were privy to a wider selection of midfielders as Ronaldo Vieira was still on our books, before eventually joining Sampdoria in a deal that could reach £10million. Adam Forshaw was also still very much a part of the first-team picture, but that was before the 27-year-old suffered a broken foot and missed the opening six rounds of the season.
Take those two away, and Klich was suddenly propelled into the starting XI, as Bielsa noted in his pre-Millwall press conference.
“The week before the season started, he was insisting, trying to move out of the club, because we didn’t have space in the team,” Bielsa revealed. “This moment the club sold Ronaldo and Forshaw was injured. [Lewis] Baker was with us. Klich was the fourth option, and became the first option.
“Forshaw was the best player in pre-season. Ronaldo was a talented young player in the club. Baker was the new solution for this position. In this moment we played against Las Palmas, Klich played, then I was thinking Klich was the best. Before that, I thought about moving Klich out because he would be fourth choice.
“To have one player as a fourth option in one position is not the best thing, because then you are keeping the player and he will not play. Unbelievable, his behaviour on the pitch [was].
“When something is positive I sometimes say it is better than it is, but there are few players like Klich making so many things in the right way. A lot of players attack and defend like him, make movements like him, they can play both sides too, more in the middle or sides, of all these we have a lot of players, but blind them in the same player is so difficult.”
Part of the reason why Klich appeared to have no future at Elland Road was also somewhat down to an early move by Bielsa, that he now accepts he got wrong.
“With time he has [become] a very good player,” he added. “He plays in a more difficult position in football. You have to do a lot of things. A mixed midfielder, sometimes right, sometimes left, he has to close down and attack close. He has to know how to attack and defend in the middle.
“Not many players can do this, Klich can. He’s in Poland’s team. He is doing everything here now because Victor [Orta] brought him here. He won his own space in the squad. In the pre-season I used Klich as a centre-back, I didn’t have the right interpretation about Klich.”