Laurens De Bock has declared himself happy with his transition from Belgian to English football despite his early struggle to nail down a place at Leeds United.
The left-back admitted to seeing a marked difference between the game in his homeland and the style in the Championship after a hard introduction to life at Leeds.
United attempted to resolve a pronounced weakness on the left side of their defence by paying Club Brugge £1.5m for De Bock in January, signing a former Belgium Under-21 international who had won both the Belgian title and the country’s domestic cup.
The 26-year-old, who received a contract at Elland Road to 2022, was thrown into an out-of-form United team whose bid for a play-off place was fading and his own performances have largely failed to impress.
He has started four times under new head coach Paul Heckingbottom, losing his place after a poor display in a 2-2 draw at Derby County last month, and a hamstring injury sidelined him last week. Nineteen-year-old Tom Pearce started in place of him against Sheffield Wednesday on Saturday.
De Bock is likely to be missing for at least a month but he told Belgian outlet Sporza that he was satisfied with his initial spell at Leeds, saying: “I’ve needed an adaptation period. If you’ve played a long time in Belgium this is a very different competition. The matches are much more physical and intense.
“It’s more fighting football, there’s no real building-up. There’s a lot of playing with the long ball and there are a lot of solid players.
“It was not easy to come here in the winter because everyone was already attuned to each other but all in all the adjustment went smoothly.”
De Bock spent his entire career in Belgium prior to joining Leeds, first with Lokeren before moving to Club Brugge in 2013.
He had lost his place at Brugge under head coach Ivan Leko and was targeted by Leeds after ankle surgery ruled Luke Ayling out for the season in January, reducing the club’s choice of full-backs.
De Bock is yet to feature in a victory for his new club, who have won just once in 14 matches, and he said: “I think the average team is stronger than the average team in Belgium.
“Club Brugge and Anderlecht would also play at the top but I think Wolverhampton and Middlesbrough in Belgium would certainly play a role in the title. The term ‘second class’ scares some people but it is not a correct representation of the level here.”