Leeds United were a club with a decimated youth set-up under the former regime of Massimo Cellino. It was a part of the club left to fallow and neglected afterwards.
The vibrancy that had brought players such as James Milner, Fabian Delph and current England midfielder Lewis Cook up and through the ranks to the first team was dulled. This dulling of the progression of youth at Elland Road had led to the stagnation of the Under-18 and Under-23 sides at the club.
That situation was one that incoming, and now current, owner Andrea Radrizzani was at pains to put right. Judicious buying of young talent, both at home and abroad, has rejuvenated the youth set-up at Elland Road and roots are beginning to be put down, green shoots beginning to push through. One of these is Spanish youngster Oriel Rey.
— Oriol Rey Erenas ♛ (@OriolRey_6) August 5, 2017
Rey came to the Whites via a deal from world football giants Barcelona, the young Catalan player being one of a number of Spanish players who joined the Whites youth set-up during the summer of 2017 – Rey joining fellow Barcelona graduate Kun Temenuzhkov at Elland Road.
Rey started out as a defensive midfielder for the Barcelona youth side, graduating first to the Juvenil B set-up at the Catalan giants in July 2014. From then it was a promotion to the Juvenil A side where he played the most minutes in the azulgrana’s run to the semi-final stage of the 2016/17 UEFA Youth League competition.
In this run to the semis, and a 2-1 defeat to Red Bull Salzburg’s youngsters, Rey came up against sides put out by the likes of Borussia Monchengladbach and Borussia Dortmund as well as against Celtic and the highly regarded youngsters at Manchester City.
Rey is currently performing well in Leeds United’s Under-23s, his classiness definitely catching the eye of fans watching games on the Leeds United app. His showings have also drawn praise from Leeds United’s Adam Underwood, who coaches the Under-18s at Elland Road.
Speaking of the Spanish youngster, who’s become a mainstay of Carlos Corberan’s Under-23 midfield, “We’ve got Oriel, who’s 19 years old. He’s come up through Barcelona’s academy. He’s got lots of great qualities and he’s quite English in the way he plays but he has that technical class which comes from being in an academy like Barcelona’s.”
Away from the words and praise of Leeds United staff like Underwood, Oriol Rey has gone about his business on the pitch in an eye-catching manner. He’s a Rey that is definitely shining at Elland Road and could very well be one Rey who could go on to be king and make it to the first team.