Leeds United favourites pay tribute to Whites loanee as defender given captaincy after just eight games

SINSHEIM, GERMANY - OCTOBER 21: Ellyes Skhiri of Eintracht Frankfurt celebrates with Robin Koch of Eintracht Frankfurt after scoring the team's third goal during the Bundesliga match between TSG Hoffenheim and Eintracht Frankfurt at PreZero-Arena on October 21, 2023 in Sinsheim, Germany. (Photo by Markus Gilliar/Getty Images)

Koch has started the Bundesliga season well, featuring prominently in the league’s most difficult defence to break down. Eintracht have conceded just six goals in their opening eight matches of the league campaign – fewer than every other club in the 18-team division.

The 27-year-old defender only joined Eintracht in the summer, on loan from Leeds, but is expected to remain in his homeland beyond the end of his United contract which expires next summer.

Last weekend, in the absence of club captain Sebastian Röde and vice-skipper Kevin Trapp, Koch was chosen by coach Dino Toppmöller to lead the team out as Eintract defeated TSG 1899 Hoffenheim by three goals to one.

On social media after the match, Koch shared a series of pictures including one of him donning the armband. In response, Whites favourites Ayling, Klich and Struijk showed their support. Ayling commented on the post, ‘Love that skip’ followed by blue and yellow heart emojis, whilst Klich said: ‘Gibst Noch Kapitan’, which roughly translates to ‘it’s giving captain’.

Struijk, meanwhile, who has replaced Liam Cooper as Whites skipper in the last two games, simply commented ‘(C)’ which is commonly understood to refer to the captaincy. Koch appears to have retained close relationships with those he shared a dressing room with over the past three seasons, despite the nature of his Elland Road exit over the summer. He is one of several Leeds players who is believed to have departed West Yorkshire due to a loan release clause in his contract, negotiated upon his arrival in 2020. The club are unlikely to recoup a fee for the German international, but are in receipt of a loan payment of approximately £500,000.

Koch’s run-out on Saturday was the first time he had worn the captain’s armband in the Bundesliga, having only once previously been given the role of stand-in skipper at Leeds, in the 5-2 defeat by Brentford at the beginning of last season.