With all the success that Leeds’ senior side have enjoyed this season in the Premier League, the under-23s made sure to get in on the act too after they clinched the Premier League 2 Division 2 title on Friday night.
Goals from Sam Greenwood and Jack Jenkins clinched a 2-1 victory over Aston Villa and ensured that all the hard work and academy improvements that Marcelo Bielsa and the Whites have made over the past few years paid off.
Of course, the ultimate success of any academy side is how many of those players from the youth system actually end up playing for the first team, and while Joe Gelhardt has been one of the most talked-about talents, it’s Greenwood who Bielsa must now surely unleash.
In his post-match player ratings for Leeds Live, Beren Cross gave him an eight, saying: “Another fantastic free-kick to add to his collection. Did not stop running, hassling or carrying all night. Could have had more goals on the night too. If Joe Gelhardt doesn’t get you, Greenwood often does.”
Capable of striking the ball off both feet, the 19-year-old has predominantly played up top for the under-23s but has played as a number ten and even enjoyed a brief stint much deeper in central midfield, too.
In 16 games at Premier League 2 level, he bagged nine goals, including a hat-trick against his former employers Sunderland much earlier in the season.
Since arriving from fellow Premier League side Arsenal last summer, The Athletic’s Phil Hay revealed that Greenwood has enjoyed an impressive start to life behind the scenes at Elland Road.
The journalist said: “He’s started really well at Leeds and he was very well thought of at Arsenal, and they weren’t rushing to get him out (of) the door this summer. From what we’ve seen of him so far, his movement and his finishing and everything else, he looks like a very natural striker.”
Meanwhile, Leeds Live‘s Joe Donnohue said: “He may have hit the ground running at Thorp Arch, but he has only been here for a matter of months. His start may have been excellent, so imagine how much better he could be with consistent football.”
Given the success of the under-23s, Bielsa must surely look to reward some of Leeds’ brightest academy talents by giving them a chance to shine in the Premier League.