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Opinion: Mateusz Klich: The key to promotion for Leeds

The Poland midfielder needs a rest, but when he’s on, he’s one of the best in the Championship

Leeds United v Queens Park Rangers - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Matthew Lewis/Getty Images

Let’s have it right. Mateusz Klich is a baller. No doubt. When Leeds United snapped him up for 1.5 million or whatever from FC Twente in the summer of 2017, straight away I went to the Google machine. No clue did I have. You didn’t either, let’s be honest. But a swift search led me to a Poland international, granted, in his day, a lad reaching his peak, maybe, and boy who could do the business in the Championship, hopefully. In any event, it was relatively exciting, by Leeds Utd signings, so I was proper behind him. And then, well, not too much. Until he was handed his chance by Thomas Christiansen against Port Vale and was pulled off in the 58th minute. Looked good, though. Only Port Vale, yeah, but definitely had something about him I felt. Deserves a start. But then, he got his opportunity against Cardiff City in the League in late September. Remember, he slipped. They scored. That was it! He’s useless, we cried!!!

Leeds fans didn’t see much of Mateusz post Cardiff and Christiansen, obviously, didn’t fancy him after the defeat by the eventual Welsh promotion winners. So much so, that he ended up being thrown on loan back to the Eredivisie with FC Utrecht. We forgot about poor Mateusz but he didn’t forget about us. He returned in the summer of 2018 but few of us reckoned he’d remotely feature in our fresh campaign. Except for, naturally, Marcelo Bielsa.

Bielsa, being Bielsa, saw what Klich had. A man with talent. A man with potential. Mateusz must have worked fierce hard to prove his worth under the new gaffer but, there he was, on opening day, lining out against promotion favourites, Stoke City. And he was outstanding! Why? Because he is outstanding. 5 goals, mainly crackers, by the way, in the first 16 Championship games and called up to the Poland international team for the first time in 4 years. “The boy’s the best midfielder in the Championship”, I roared. And I still reckon he is. But he’s wrecked at present. Absolutely goosed!! And I’ll tell you why.

Now, while not one to focus too much on statistics, Klich has played, according to Whoscored.com, 2380 minutes so far this season. Now, you see, that doesn’t include League Cup and International Friendly appearances. So, when you add them in, and I’m open to correction, he has, actually played, 2476 minutes of football so far this season. I compare this to Alex Tettey, of Norwich City midfield fame, who has suffered through 2099 minutes of action and looks like he’s all set to be put down, being pulled off against Brentford, in Norwich’s last Championship game.

And, I’ll give you more, if you want. Thanks to Whoscored.com, I now realise that Klich played 25 games, in total, last season. In the 2016-17 campaign, he played 29. So far, this season he’s played 33. Now, and once again, I’m not remotely mathematically minded remember, but, even I, oh my brothers, realise that this season has perhaps been Klich’s most physically brutal in his whole career. He, most certainly, needs to recapture his form if Leeds are to do the business this season. But, Christ, he needs a rest.

Statistics are funny though. The only other Leeds player who has played more minutes this season is, Gianni Alioski. And, apparently, he starts on Sunday.