Leeds United are a club renowned to have a rich vein of young talent that has been produced through its youth ranks and by its Thorp Arch academy. That much is plain to see in the Premier League.
Recent graduates Charlie Taylor (Burnley), Sam Byram (West Ham) and Lewis Cook (Bournemouth) are all currently in English football’s top-tier competition. More distant graduates such as Fabian Delph (Manchester City), Danny Rose (Tottenham Hotspur) and James Milner (Liverpool) are also present in Premier League sides.
Even in the current Leeds United side there’s Ronaldo Vieira and Kalvin Phillips with highly regarded youngster, and former Academy captain, Lewie Coyle out on loan at Fleetwood Town. Throw in talented striker Malik Wilks, on loan at Grimsby Town, and there’s definitely a ‘youth conveyor belt’ system at Leeds United.
That ‘home-produced’ talent has been bolstered since last summer with a raft of arrivals who have padded out the Under-18 and Under-23 squads this season. These players have been brought in from sides at both home and abroad, the latter featuring players arriving from sides such as Barcelona, Real Madrid and Benfica.
Quoted in a Yorkshire Evening Post article by Lee Sobot, new Leeds United head coach Paul Heckingbottom is quoted as saying: “If they are good enough, young players will get a chance. It’s part of a process, and if you have the structure and set-up right – and you can provide opportunity just by organisation – naturally people will get opportunities.”
With Heckingbottom’s words in mind, on the following page are five players in Leeds United’s youth sides who deserve a sniff of the first-team.