Leeds United enjoy something of a growing reputation for being a team who boast a considerable amount of young and exciting talents of the future, with Victor Orta seemingly working extremely hard over the past few years in order to future-proof Jesse Marsch’s first-team squad at Elland Road.
Indeed, in recent seasons, the Spaniard has added the likes of Cody Drameh, Crysencio Summerville, Sam Greenwood, Lewis Bate, Leo Hjelde, Sonny Perkins, Wilfried Gnonto and Darko Gyabi to the youth ranks at Thorp Arch, many of whom have already gone on to make a real impression with the senior side.
However, the jewel in Leeds United’s youth crown has undoubtedly proven to be Joe Gelhardt, the 20-year-old who set the Whites back just £1m upon his arrival from Wigan Athletic back in the summer of 2020.
Since then, the centre-forward has enjoyed a rather meteoric rise to first-team football, having bagged 11 goals and provided three assists over 16 Premier League 2 appearances for the U23s in 2020/21, in addition to having scored seven goals and registered one assist in over just 10 fixtures in the same competition last time out.
These impressive returns have seen the £13m-rated talent earn a regular spot in the Whites’ senior side, however, Gelhardt has already demonstrated that he is not simply there to make up the numbers in the senior squad.
Indeed, over his 20 Premier League appearances – only five of which came as starts – in 2021/22, the £17k-per-week forward provided his teammates with four assists, as well as bagged two goals of his own – one of which saw his side dramatically take all three points in a last-gasp 2-1 win over Norwich City.
Furthermore, according to FBref, Gelhadrt ranks in the top 2% of centre-forwards in Europe’s big five leagues and European competitions for pressures per 90, in addition to the top 35% for non-penalty xG, the top 19% for progressive carries, the top 11% for dribbles and the top 23% for assists over the last 365 days – proving just how effective the 20-year-old is on the pitch.
As such, it is not difficult to understand why James Marshment dubbed the youngster a “special talent with ice in his veins” last season, nor is it hard to see why Jake Winderman labelled the England U21 international “unreal,” as the striker’s current market valuation of £13m – 1200% more than is £1m fee – along with his impressive returns prove that Orta really did hit the jackpot when landing the centre-forward sensation two years ago.