Birmingham City manager Aitor Karanka has insisted that Jonathan Leko can still make an impact at the club, despite admitting that the striker currently find himself in a rather difficult situation at St Andrew’s.
Leko joined Birmingham from local rivals West Brom back in the summer transfer window, but has endured a difficult start to life with the Blues.
The striker has failed to score or provide an assist in 24 appearances in all competitions for the club, and hasn’t started a game for Karanka’s side since January.
Now it seems as thought the Spaniard is well aware of the position that Leko finds himself in, but appears to have suggested that the 21-year-old needs to do more to force his way back into the lineup.
Speaking about Leko’s recent struggles, Karanka was quoted by Birmingham Live as saying: “It is difficult because he is a player who has massive potential but when you look at him and he is doing his best he is without any doubt a Premier League player.
“But when you see him in the other way you can understand why he is here and why he is not playing here.”
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Even so, it does appear as though Karanka believes that Leko can make a big contribution to Birmingham going forward, as he went on to add: “He is a player we signed for the present but especially for the future. He needs to improve a lot, he needs to learn a lot – but to improve and to learn you need to want to learn and to improve.
“The situation is not good for him because the team would be much better for him. He is a player with enormous potential, he is a player I hope will help us a lot in the present and the future.
“I think it is age, he is young and he was in the Premier League, he had a bad injury, it is I think because of the situation.”
Leko signed a three-year contract with Birmingham last summer, securing his future at St Andrew’s until the end of the 2022/23 season.
It does seem as though this is an interesting situation for Karanka to consider with regards to Leko.
Admittedly, the striker has really struggled to make anything like the sort of impact that Birmingham will have wanted from him since his move to St Andrew’s, so you can understand why he might be down the pecking order.
However, when you consider that none of Birmingham’s other attacking options have been making much of an impact for them recently, you do wonder whether it could be time for Karanka to try something different with Leko again.
Indeed, that is something that would certainly give him the opportunity to prove Karaka right with his prediction that Leko has a big part to play for Birmingham going forward.