MATEUSZ KLICH has been a mainstay of Leeds United’s promotion push. One of only two ever-presents in the Championship, he boasts the third-highest tally of goals at Elland Road.
But had the midfielder got his own way last summer this season’s attempt to end United’s 15-year absence from the Premier League would not have involved the Pole.
“The week before the start of the season he (Klich) was insisting on trying to move out of the club because he didn’t have a space in the team,” revealed head coach Marcelo Bielsa.
“Victor Orta (director of football) was the guy who selected him to be in the squad and he made the right decision. Then Klich made it work to be part of the squad. Klich, for me, was the fourth option (behind Lewis Baker, Adam Forshaw and Ronaldo Vieira).”
Klich’s desire to get away was perhaps understandable. He had endured a tough start to life at Leeds following a £1.5m move from FC Twente the previous year and been loaned out to Utrecht.
Being fourth in the midfield pecking order under a new head coach last summer is unlikely to have helped matters.
But then Vieira was sold to Sampdoria and Forshaw suffered an injury that ruled the former Middlesbrough man out until September. Klich saw his chance and took it.
“Klich moved to be the first option,” added Bielsa about the Pole, who netted three times in the first five league games of the season, “and with the passing of time he has been a very good player.
“The merit goes to Orta because he moved the player to Leeds.
“The merit goes to Klich, too, because with his effort he won a space in the squad.
“He plays in a difficult position because you have to do a lot of things. Not all players can do these things. Klich is one who can.”
United have been given a timely boost ahead of tackling Millwall with Pontus Jansson being passed fit.
The Swedish international had been expected to miss three weeks with the knee injury he suffered in the March 16 defeat at home to Sheffield United.
Forshaw is also available after eight games out, while Kemar Roofe could return at Birmingham City a week tomorrow.