Leeds United have earned something of a reputation for developing incredibly exciting young talents in recent years, with academy product Kalvin Phillips having gone on to establish himself as one of the leading midfielders in the Premier League, while Joe Gelhardt, Sam Greenwood and Charlie Cresswell all look to possess extremely bright futures at the very top level of the professional game.
However, there is one player currently in the Thorp Arch setup that could well go on to top the lot – that of 16-year-old Archie Gray.
After highly impressing throughout the various age groups in the Leeds academy, the attacking midfielder has gone on to establish himself as a regular in Mark Jackson’s U23 side this season – so far making ten appearances in the Premier League 2 in the current campaign.
And, the youngster’s performances already appear to have caught the eye of Jesse Marsch, who said of Gray after his display in the U23’s recent 3-0 win over Manchester United:
“I thought it was a really good performance. I know there’s massive anticipation for Archie to be a big, talented player. I think that he’s intelligent – he can read the game really well, he can run all day, he’s good on the ball.
“He’s got a lot of really good qualities to be a strong player in the middle of the field. Archie has an incredible bloodline, he’s a big talent here, a homegrown talent.
“From getting to know him as a personality I think he’s excited to be on the pitch every day. He loves football, he loves training. He has a lot of really strong qualities as a person that will help him develop rather quickly.”
Furthermore, former Leeds centre-forward Noel Whelan also appears to be extremely excited about the future of the midfielder, stating in a recent interview with Football Insider:
“He is one to watch. He’s just 16 years of age and is playing with a confidence and quality that runs through the great family. It seems like he’s the next one to be a catalyst to take Leeds United forward.
“He’s got quality, calmness, composure and you can see he has great technique with the finish from outside the box [against United]. A player that believes in his ability and is not afraid.
“They will be nurturing him very carefully and rightly so. He is playing in the U23s at 16 years of age and he is not out of place there. A really exciting young player. He is going in the right direction and he has a good DNA behind him.”
As such, with attacking midfield not exactly being an area of his squad in which Marsch is blessed with depth, perhaps it would be wise for the American to take a closer look at Gray over the remainder of the current campaign.
Should he continue his current rate of development, the 16-year-old could well prove to save the Whites millions of pounds in transfer fees this summer.