With players such as Llorente, Robin Koch and skipper Liam Cooper vying for the two spots at the heart of the defence, the 21-year-old academy graduate could have hardly dreamt of becoming a regular starter for Marcelo Bielsa’s team.
However, contrary to expectations, injuries and suspensions meant that Struijk managed to notch up his 18th top flight start of the season against Liverpool on Monday night.
Heaping praise on his young team-mate, the 27-year-old insisted that Struijk has shown he has what it takes to produce for Leeds.
“I think he’s become a key player, despite his age”, Llorente told the Yorkshire Evening Post.
“He’s shown what it takes at this level to help the team, in the centre of defence or in the centre of midfield.
“It’s come to him at a young age and, when it happens, you can only benefit from the experience it gives you.”
Llorente feels that he benefited from playing regularly at a young age and is sure Struijk will do the same.
“I was lucky in my career that I played quite early, at a high level, and know from experience that it helped me grow as a player.
“When you’re in at the deep end you do flourish and develop.”
Leeds are looking to grab another big scalp this coming weekend when Manchester United provide the opposition at Elland Road.