Leeds completed the deal to sign highly rated Chelsea midfielder Lewis Baker on a one-year loan this morning. The 23-year-old England youth international arrives with a bubbling reputation and it’s expected Leeds could sign him on a permanent basis if it’s a success.
I have been speaking with a Middlesbrough fan, and another author on this site regarding Baker. The attacking midfielder spent last season on loan in the North East and didn’t really progress like he, Boro and Chelsea had hoped and most probably expected. I have asked him five questions to help us understand a bit more about Baker and what we can expect as well as why things didn’t work out for the player at Boro last season.
1. Boro fans are a bit unsure on Baker, most saying he was played out of position and had bags of potential, what’s your view of what happened at Boro?
“There was a lot of expectation around Baker when he joined Boro, especially after the great season he had at Vitesse the year before. But he never really got the run of games he needed I don’t think and he had little or no influence when playing in fits and starts. Also Monk didn’t like Adama Traore so started a lot of different players out wide including Baker, but he likes to be a number 10 and create through the middle. Out wide he was often on the peripherals rather than being involved.”
2. Do you think he will develop if give the games?
“Games is definitely what he needs, the first half of the season he had a few good moments like scoring against QPR at home but with little playing time he didn’t have any consistency. When Pulis came in he barely played 5 minutes from January onwards.”
3. Who does he play most like? Comparing him to anyone in the world, style not ability.
“I’d like to think of him as a Modric type of player. Not too flashy, but can create, dribble and shoot from distance. Keeps it simple but is capable of the exceptional.”
4. What was the one thing that held him back at Boro?
“It’s difficult to put it down to one thing but if I had to say one I’d say the management. Under Gary Monk although he got more playing time, he was played out of position out wide and there was no consistency in terms of minutes on the pitch. He started a few games in a row at the end of September but not much else. When Pulis came in he was more often than not even in the squad at all. He needs someone to play to his strengths.”
5. One thing he’s very good at and one thing he needs to work on?
“One thing he’s very good at is beating his man. It wasn’t an awful idea for monk playing him out wide as this is one of his strengths. However he can be quite frustrating as the one thing he needs to work on is his decision-making. He’ll often pass when he should dribble or dribble when he should pass. Or he’ll shoot when others are in better positions. I like the fact he trusts his own ability but it’s his decision-making that needs improvement.”
A big thank you to Oliver for taking the time to answer the questions.