Llorente must learn quickly in Koch absence
09 Dec 2020 09:48 am, by YorkshireSquare
With defender Robin Koch ruled out of action for the foreseeable future, fellow centre-back Diego Llorente will have to follow in the German’s footsteps and hit the ground running at Elland Road.
Leeds United boss Marcelo Bielsa might well have felt his heart sink as Koch trudged off the field at Stamford Bridge, with his race run in the first-half of the 3-1 defeat at the hands of rivals Chelsea. It was later revealed Koch had aggravated a knee injury that he has been nursing since the opening game of the Premier League campaign at Liverpool.
The Whites have now confirmed the Germany international will have surgery on the problem, and will be set for a spell on the sidelines. Koch might have produced a few high-profile errors, but most would suggest the 24-year-old defender has made a very positive start to life in the English top flight.
While Leeds were priced out of a move for Brighton defender Ben White over the summer, director of football Victor Orta was able to pull off a bargain swoop for Koch, for a fee believed to be in the region of £13million. That’s well under half the fee that was being suggested for Seagulls star White, who had been a key figure in helping Leeds win the Championship title last season.
Barring the odd error, Koch has brought a calmness at centre-back and a passing game that has become synonymous with what Bielsa looks for in a ball-playing defender. Koch has had to make the step up from Freiburg, to playing in the Premier League against some of the best attacking players in the world. It would be fair to suggest he has settled in well and his absence on the sidelines is a blow for Leeds, who are 11/8 with bet365 in the Premier League betting to finish in the top half of the table this season.
Before the battle at The Bridge, Bielsa had confirmed Llorente was available after recovering from his own injury problems, but the Argentine tactician was hoping to give the defender a few games with the under-23s, before being thrust into Premier League action. Koch’s departure meant Llorente got his first taste of top flight English football much sooner than expected.
Much like Koch, there were a couple of shaky moments in the early stages, as the former Real Sociedad centre-back found his feet in the game against an impressive Chelsea attack. However, he did start to settle and again his passing game came to the fore, while he looked to be working well alongside skipper Liam Cooper. Obviously the goals conceded were disappointing against Frank Lampard’s side, but there are promising signs for the future.
Leeds will of course be hoping to have Koch back playing as soon as possible, but it looks like they have acquired another player at a bargain price in Llorente. The Spain international will have plenty of opportunities to impress over the coming weeks, and when Koch returns, the competition for places at centre-back at Elland Road looks good. That’s something Leeds have had to cope without for quite some time.