With the current season still up in the air due to the current pandemic, looking at future signings seems strange. As the summer transfer window is likely to either change dates or to be shorter, planning is key. We know that Victor Orta and his scouting team spend years scouting players and one player that he has looked at before and is still looking at is Robin Koch, but who is he?
Robin Koch, son of former Kaiserslautern defender Harry Koch, started out his career at Eintracht Trier in the fourth division in Germany before getting a move to second division side Kaiserslautern. He enjoyed a successful season there playing 27 times which earned him a move to SC Freiburg for a reported 3.6 million fee. Despite only being 23 years of age, he has played over 150 senior games with 74 of them being in the Bundesliga. His fine form over the last few years has alerted the attention of many top clubs around Europe with RB Leipzig coming close to signing him in January 2020.
Koch is predominantly a centre back but can and has played a number of times in defensive midfield, something which Bielsa is a big fan of. Being right footed, he either plays in the middle of a back three, the right of a back three or the right sided centre back in a 4 man defence. Comfortable on the ball, Robin likes to receive the ball from the goalkeeper before looking to pass the ball forward, either to a player close by or a long pass. His passing both long and short range is one of his stand out attributes averaging 42.9 passes per game with a pass accuracy of 85% in the Bundesliga this season. He ranks 12th in the league for accurate long balls per game averaging 4.8, highlighting his ability to find his teammates no matter where they are on the pitch.
Being comfortable on the ball when under pressure from the opposition and being able to make the right decision is a key attribute that any Bielsa defender or midfielder needs to have. This is something that Robin has, with him more often than not making the right decision. He does however sometimes lack concentration and is too casual on the ball, costing his team 3 goals this season due to errors. His ability to read the game is good and defends his box accordingly, averaging 3.5 clearances per game, which ranks him joint 24th in the league this season.
Standing at 6ft 3 means that he offers good aerial ability, something that Leeds currently lack. He has won 61% of his aerial duels this season which is 10% more than current Leeds defender, Ben White. However despite his height, he does lack overall physicality winning just 57% of his ground duels, 8% less than White. The reason I compare the two instead of comparing him to Liam Cooper is the fact that Robin Koch looks likely to be an alternative to White if the club fail to sign him permanently. The passing ability of both are similar, however Koch is more dominate in the air where as White is more comfortable dribbling the ball out of defensive. Worth noting that when comparing the two the difference in quality in terms of the league they play in and the number of games each player has played in their respective leagues.
At a rumoured price tag of 10 million with just one year left on his current deal, Robin Koch offers good value for money. Having helped his current side SC Freiburg to a 13th place finish last season with the side currently 8th before the break due to the current pandemic, his stock has risen. Now a full German International and only being 23, Koch will most certainly move this coming transfer window. He won’t be short of options in the summer and Leeds will have to beat of a lot of competition in order to sign the promising defender. Promotion and the draw of working under Bielsa would both put Leeds in a good position to have a serious go at signing him but the interesting question will be, is he an alternative to White or is he being looked at to play alongside him? Or even as competition for both Liam Cooper and Kalvin Phillips? Time will tell but after Victor Orta’s comments in the YEP, we’re almost certainly interested in this player.
Written by Thomas Wilson