Marcelo Bielsa has a brilliant record when it comes to developing young players.
Stars such as Aymeric Laporte, Ander Herrera and Benjamin Mendy all developed under the Argentine, and at Leeds United, he’s been pivotal in the progression of Kalvin Phillips, while he also turned Jack Clarke into a £10m player in just one season.
Leeds have been very good at investing in U23 players with a view to them progressing into the first team, with the likes of Tyler Roberts and Pascal Struijk doing just that in recent years, and this summer, we saw a whole new crop of talent come through the door at Elland Road.
Cody Drameh, Sam Greenwood and Crysencio Summerville were all exciting acquisitions, but there may not be another player more-suited to becoming a star under Bielsa than Joe Gelhardt.
The former Wigan man is obviously a massive talent, having made his first-team debut for the Latics as a 17-year-old, while his record of 9 goals in 19 games for England U17s and U18s further underlines his potential.
However, away from what he can do on the pitch, it seems as though Gelhardt is the perfect player to work with off it too.
We know how much Bielsa values a player’s personality and character, with Phil Hay writing in one of his columns earlier this summer: “He seeks footballers with a good attitude, footballers who are malleable and willing to learn, footballers who are obedient, footballers who can avoid disrupting the harmony of a very tight and happy dressing room.”
Gelhardt sounds like he’s in that exact mould, with his former coaches at Wigan speaking incredibly highly of him as a person as well as a footballer.
Paul Cook gave him a glowing review after he scored against Hull last season
“A lot of young footballers coming into the game are not very nice people. We’re just lucky to have a boy with his humility playing for us – the game is easy for him.
“He’ll be starting soon if he carries on like that. He’s a young boy that needs minding though.
“It’s a very special goal from a very special player.”
His academy coach Gregor Rioch would go on to say words of a similar effect towards the end of last season:
“That’s always been one of the aims of the Academy – not just to produce Premier League players, but also Premier League people.
“He certainly comes into that category, and he’s a fantastic role model for the rest of the lads in the Academy who want to emulate him.
“Joe has that absolute love for the game, which sets him apart from so many players – a real passion and desire for the game.”
Bielsa seems to have a real gem on his hands, a natural talent who is ready to get his head down and work hard to become a better footballer, and there are few better coaches in the world to work under when you have that type of mindset.
Leeds could be on to a winner with this one.