OK, before I start receiving hate mail and threats, let me make my points very clear; I rate Sam Byram, I really do. As a right back, he’s definitely Premier League quality and Leeds United can think themselves lucky that he’s at Elland Road to start the 2015/16 Championship campaign. As Premier League suitors queued up, Leeds’ resolve stood firm and Byram remained a White.

He proved last season that he could do a job, and do it well, as a right-sided midfielder. It wasn’t a case of him ‘filling in’ and ‘doing a job’, he showed skill and poise in that roll. He has an innate ability to get forward and a willingness to beat players. If you factor in his defensive qualities, then you also have a midfielder who tracks back and tackles well. However, does he cut it as a winger, an out-and-out wide player.

Sam Byram – a season in numbers

The categories, below, show Byram’s returns in areas where you’d expect a wide player to excel. However, just how does Byram measure up when looking at returns over an expected and typical 90 minutes?

  • 1.3  dribbles – 0.6 successful; 0.7 unsuccessful
  • 1.9 cross attempts – 0.4 on-target; 1.5 off-target
  • 1.1 shot assist passes
  • 0.7 shots at goal – 0.2 out of area; 0.1 inside area; 0.5 inside penalty area
  • 3 losses of possession

However, numbers only illustrate aspects of a player’s game but football is more than just numbers and figures, much more. Byram has played well in the advanced role, I’m just worried that he’s not a natural there. His crossing accuracy (21%) doesn’t really mark him out as an accurate provider of quality ball and his dribbling success (46%) doesn’t indicate that he can take on and best players regularly or at a high enough volume.

However, saying that, Sam Byram will have more opportunities to run at players in the more advanced position he’ll be playing for Leeds this year. Then there’s his ability to create goals, he only laid on one assist during his almost ever-present 201415 Championship campaign.

In the recent friendly against Everton, Sam Byram played well, without setting the game alight. Yes he set up Alex Mowatt’s opener in the 2-0 victory against the Toffees, but that was more tiki-taka-toe-poke then genuine wide player play. Yes he’s not afraid to run at players, but is that enough? When he ran at Everton’s defence, they tended to come at him and attempt to tackle him. When Mirco Antenucci came on and ran at defenders, they tended to back off.

Look, Sam Byram is a class player, he really is. He plays consistently in the white shirt of Leeds United, I just don’t think that he’ll be as effective as a wing as a right midfielder…let alone a right back. If Leeds do continue to play the 4-3-3 with emphasis on genuine pace and natural width, will Leeds be looking to add a more natural player on the wide right to complement new signing Stuart Dallas on the other wing?

About Author

Cynicism turned to optimism but without the woop woops and ringing bells. Leeds United supporter through thick and thin, more thin than anything recently. Write mainly about the Whites but turn my hand to other clubs. Lover of salted crisp sandwiches. Not a hipster.


  1. paul duffield on

    I Agree Sam is quality why else would the prem be looking at him and he has played well for us last season, but I also think he would be better back in defence making the odd run forward, the thing is if uwe is going to play beluchi in defence as well we need some to cover his mistakes (sorry I just don’t trust him)

  2. David Coleman on

    Graham. It would be interesting if you compare Sam’s stats to a so-called out-and-out winger. I assume that they wouldn’t stack up? I agree that Sam isn’t a ‘winger’ as such. However, I have watched some YouTube footage of Dalls, and don’t see him going past players and putting crosses in either. In fact, although playing as a left winger, he doesn’t even touch the ball with his left foot in the whole of the footage! But the question is, how will these 2 players be employed into Uwe’s system. Is he looking to play traditional wingers in his 4-3-3 / 4-2-3-1? In some such systems, the ‘3’ are a little narrow. There have been some very successful wide midfielders who were not true wingers. We’ve had our fair share in the past. In conclusion, we’re still probably short of another option in wide areas. We only have the 2, so I would prefer that we bring in another, providing cover and giving us the option of playing Sam at RB.

  3. CriticalButPositiveLeedsFan on

    Nope. Nope. Nope. Anyone who supports and follows Leeds should very well know he is a stronger right winger than right back.

    He switches off way too many times at right back, even at right wing. I noticed it when he first came into the first team. I would advise you to rewatch pre-season games and see him daydreaming, leaving Berardi or Wootton 2 for 1. Then go back further and watch how many goals come from his side when he played right back.

    We can’t let their wingers or strikers get behind our full backs. We need to stay tight whist defending.

    Keep him at right wing. Byram is a nuisance for the opposition back four; he’s skillful, he’ll win headers in the opposition’s box, and he’s also fast. Berardi is a better defender.

    Enough said.

  4. Anonymous on

    He could become a great winger. Just look how it took bale afew seasons to adjust before becoming a prolific winger who scores. Sets up and scares defenders with his pace. I can see Byram going that way if trained well and pushes himself this season.

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