Leeds United and Victor Orta have made a conscious effort to invest in youth in recent seasons, with the likes of Joe Gelhardt, Sam Greenwood, Crysencio Summerville, Illan Meslier, Darko Gyabi and Sonny Perkins all being brought into the Thorp Arch setup over the last two years.
And, despite being yet to feature for Jesse Marsch’s first-team squad following his summer arrival, 18-year-old Perkins already looks as if he could be one of the Whites’ best investments of the Orta era at Elland Road, with the centre-forward who Roshane Thomas dubbed “promising” having been in exceptional form for Michael Skubala’s U21 side so far this term.
Indeed, over his five Premier League 2 appearances in the current campaign, the £1.08m-rated striker has hit the back of the net an incredible six times – scoring in every fixture he has played in the white of Leeds – with these returns seeing the former West Ham United forward win the division’s Player of the Month award in August.
However, it has not only been at club level that the teenager has impressed, as Perkins continued his remarkable goalscoring form on duty with England U19s over the recent international break, scoring one in a 2-0 victory over Montenegro U19s and bagging a hat-trick in a 6-0 demolition of Georgia U19s last Saturday.
It was a similar story in the 4-2 victory over Denmark U19s on Tuesday evening, with the attacker once again getting himself on the scoresheet – extending his run of games in which he has scored to eight – as well as providing Omari Forson’s assist for England’s third of the match – meaning he has now averaged a goal or assist every 71 minutes of football played so far this season.
Furthermore, Conor McGilligan recently revealed on the One Leeds Fan Channel that, after speaking with a source at West Ham, Perkins was viewed by those in the know at the London Stadium as somebody who could develop to the level of the £72m-rated Declan Rice.
“They have picked up a gem, in my opinion,” McGilligan said. “Before I did this video, I spoke to [someone] last night, spoke to him earlier on this morning, and it was about Sonny Perkins.
“Now, when he first came in, I spoke to the same individual, who is quite close to things going on at West Ham. And he was saying that in terms of productivity, in terms of the calibre of the lad, in terms of impact, he was on the same level as Declan Rice. That is what the academy-level people at West Ham United were expecting when it came to Sonny Perkins coming through.”
As such, while it would be insincere to compare Perkins’ current ability to that of a player with 34 England caps to his name, the 18-year-old has very much proven this season that he is on the right path to one day emulating the West Ham captain’s reputation in the game – something that is sure to be an incredibly exciting prospect for both Jesse Marsch and the Elland Road faithful alike.