A couple of years ago I wrote a blog post looking at three potential players who would make the step up to the first team, today I look at three more.
Oriol Rey – Centre Midfield/Centre Back
The 19-year-old Spaniard arrived at Leeds United this summer following his release from FC Barcelona Juvenil A. Despite playing most of his football in Spain as a centre back, he’s started most of his games for Leeds u23’s as a holding centre midfield. At only 19 years old and playing in a new country it wouldn’t be expected of Rey to be controlling games like he’s a 27-year-old seasoned professional working his way back from injury. He’s comfortable on the ball, he doesn’t look fazed about receiving passes under pressure and is consistently looking for a forward pass. The fact he has this technical ability despite playing in defence for most of his football involvement says a lot about the ability of the players from the top academies in Spain. It is clear Rey has the technical ability to step up into the first team, the question will be does he have the physical ability to cope with a midfield battle against experienced pros?
Jack Clarke- Winger/Striker
The York-born striker has impressed for the u23’s and u18’s this season and signed his first professional deal with Leeds United despite rumoured interest from other clubs, with Manchester City being one. The 17-year-old is highly rated within the academy and so far this season hasn’t disappointed scoring many goals and causing the opposition plenty of problems with his direct play. He was promoted to the u23’s after being the top scorer for both the u16s and the u18s, where in 9 starts for the u18’s he scored 11 goals. He has an eye for goal and loves standing up defenders in a one v one situation before taking them on. At 17 he’s still not fully developed and will most certainly get quicker and stronger as he gets older. Clarke has impressed so much that Thomas Christiansen admitted that he was going to include him in the squad against Leicester but was afraid he’d impress when he wasn’t under contract with Leeds yet. I have no doubts that Clarke will play in the first team, if not this season then he should definitely be playing next.
Bryce Hosannah- Right Back
The attacking full back joined Leeds United this summer after impressing on trial after being released from Premier League side Crystal Palace. It came as a bit of a surprise to many Crystal Palace fans when Bryce was released after impressing for them in a lot of their games. The 18-year-old has raw pace, loves to beat a man and despite being a full back has a good eye for a goal. Very much your modern day full back, with his defence being something that he will look to improve as well as his positioning. Hosannah’s pace certainly helps him out defensively, however, very rarely will he get beaten in a one vs one situation. With Luke Ayling out for the season and Lewie Coyle still out on loan to Fleetwood, don’t be surprised if Bryce pops up in the matchday squad this season.
All three players mentioned I expect to feature for the Leeds Untied first team over the coming years and will hopefully impress while doing so. Of course, this is only my opinion and I do not have time to watch every game they play; however, I do watch as much academy football as possible and these are the three players that to me, stand out. For other academy watchers these players will be well know, and I would be interested to know if you feel the same way as I do. There’s an exciting future ahead for Leeds United with an owner and sporting director who spend awful lot of time looking to improve our academy.