Leeds United’s academy has been the starting point for many Premier League stars’ careers.
The likes of James Milner, Danny Rose, Fabian Delph and Lewis Cook have all gone on to become England internationals after developing at the Yorkshire club, while others such as Jack Clarke and Jamie Shackleton have already had promising starts to their careers.
As always, eyes are looking towards the next generation to potentially spot the next big thing to come out of Thorp Arch, and this week The Guardian named one Leeds player in their list of 20 Premier League next-generation stars.
Summer signing Charlie Allen made The Guardian’s list, and it’s not hard to understand why.
The Northern Irishman has already received incredibly high praise from within the club, with Phil Hay saying that people at the club can’t speak highly enough of him, and it’s not just people at Leeds that think rate him.
The Guardian describe him as a two-footed player with adhesive close control, while Northern Ireland’s U18 Elite Performance Director spoke of his incredible versatility, naming six different roles that he can play in:
“Charlie is one of those kids you can play anywhere and he’ll probably still be the best player on the pitch,” said Jim Magilton.
“He can play right-back, central midfield, on either wing, at No 10 or at centre forward.
“He has always had that wonderful ability to go past people which is a dying art. We didn’t want to coach that out of him and it was an insistence of mine to give him the confidence to keep playing that way.
“Charlie has developed physically and worked extremely hard in the gym. An important aspect of our programme is developing the boys and Charlie has excelled in that area. He is also an under-17 international and is a really, really good footballer.
This ridiculous versatility at a young age bodes well for Allen as it seems as though he’s the complete package, able to play anywhere, and it’s up to Leeds to decide how best to use him.
This isn’t the first time United have had a player like this on their hands, back in the late 90s Alan Smith emerged at Elland Road as a striker, but by the end of his Leeds career he’d played in no fewer than five positions, and by the end of his playing career, he’d played in 10 different roles, ranging from centre-back to left winger.
Allen’s best position remains to be seen, and it’s up to the coaches at Leeds to make sure he reaches his full potential, but having such a Swiss army knife of a footballer is never a bad thing.