With Marcelo Bielsa’s Leeds United having not enjoyed the best of starts to the 2020/21 Premier League campaign, picking up just 11 points from their opening 12 fixtures of the season and suffering something of an injury crisis, attention at Elland Road is rather rapidly turning to the January transfer window.
However, with the 66-year-old recently suggesting that he may not be willing to delve too deeply into the winter market due to the amount of money the Whites have spent under his leadership in previous windows, the Argentine manager may well be left with no other option than to begin blooding a number of the club’s most promising academy products in his first-team squad.
And, should Bielsa indeed turn to Leeds’ youth to make up the numbers over what remains of the current Premier League campaign, there is one player in particular who would appear worthy of a crack at senior football, in the form of 15-year-old Archie Gray.
Despite his extremely tender age, the attacking midfielder was named in the Whites’ travelling squad to face Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday afternoon, something that – despite the teenager ultimately being left out of the matchday team – gives a clear indication of how highly-rated Gray is at Thorp Arch.
However, while the inclusion of a 15-year-old perhaps raised a number of eyebrows in the wider footballing world, Leeds fans will more than likely be less shocked by Gray’s emergence, as the youngster has been making a habit of pulling up trees in the club’s youth setup so far this season.
Indeed, already a regular in the Whites U18 team, the England U16 international has also broken into Mark Jackson’s U23 side this season, so far having made three Premier League 2 appearances, in addition to stealing the show in the 4-1 EFL Trophy defeat to Tranmere Rovers back in September.
In this fixture, despite the heavy loss, Gray produced a moment of magic midway through the second half, turning an onrushing Rovers midfielder in style before sliding a defence-splitting pass into the path of Amari Miller, who duly fired home from close range.
As such, it is perhaps no surprise that Victor Orta appears to be incredibly excited regarding the potential of the 15-year-old, with the director of football evening likening the emergence of Gray to that of Sergio Aguero.
In an interview with La Media Inglesa (via Leeds Live), Orta said: “I want to say the name of Archie Gray on La Media Inglesa. Hopefully nobody takes him away from us. Nobody is going to do that, he has [Leeds] in his blood. So that’s why I want to say the name of Archie Gray on here because every time he takes a step forward you’ll see him.
“He’s one of those players you see every, I don’t know. I remember Kun Aguero and saying, ‘what is this?’ It’s something that happens once in a long time. [It] has actually happened only a few times – in the South America U20s tournament, Kun scored 10 or 12 goals or something like that, you could see he was different. Archie gives me the same feeling.”
So, considering just how highly Gray is evidently thought of at Thorp Arch, coupled with the fact that Bielsa is extremely short of options in the middle of the park, it would appear a very wise move for the 66-year-old to unleash the teenage sensation in his first-team over the coming weeks and months, as the 15-year-old could end up saving Andrea Radrizzani tens of millions of pounds in January transfer fees.