This article is part of Football FanCast’s In The Pipeline series, which takes a look at some of the most promising young talent either linked with clubs or emerging from their academies…
Contract news is seemingly coming out of Elland Road with great regularity at the moment.
Senior members Kalvin Phillips, Stuart Dallas and Liam Cooper have all penned new deals while there were five players this week that landed upgraded terms too.
Stuart McKinstry, who arrived in the summer, and also Charlie Cresswell were the lucky benefactors.
The latter is the son of Richard Cresswell, a former player at Leeds and also now their head of academy coaching.
But it’s two other players mentioned above that could also have a say in how his son develops in west Yorkshire.
The 17-year-old earned his debut for the U23 team this season and is so far showing extremely promising signs.
Comparisons with Cooper are easy to see. He’s been described as a mature and hungry individual, one with tremendous leadership skills.
Earlier this year, he was one of 11 apprentices to be recognised for their outstanding work by the League Football Organisation.
A report detailed his efforts, explaining: “The 16-year-old has consistently pushed himself and others to develop on the training pitch and in the classroom, showing excellent leadership skills throughout the season both on and off the pitch.”
Now 17, Cresswell is another year wiser and that will only benefit him going forward.
Leeds clearly rate him and evidence of that can be seen by their commitment to handing him professional terms. Captain of the U18 side last season, he may be someone that looks towards club captain Cooper for extra guidance.
The Scot was named in the PFA Team of the Year last season but he might not be the only central defender the teenager has an impact on.
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One of the best rising talents coming out of Thorp Arch at the time being is Struijk. The former Ajax man is yet to be given his chance in the first team this season but he and Cresswell are two players who could vie for the same spot in the future.
When Ben White leaves next season there will be an opening for a defender and Marcelo Bielsa has already favoured youth.
This season Alfie McCalmont and Mateusz Bogusz have broken through while as of January last term, the Argentine had handed debuts to ten players below the age of 21.
This is something that bodes well for not only Struijk, but also Cresswell who might be someone that rivals the Dutchman in the years to come.