Leeds United have suffered from their fair share of injury woes already this season, particularly in defence, but their long-term future could be in very safe hands.
Charlie Cresswell could well become the next academy gem to emerge as a first-team star, following in the footsteps of Kalvin Phillips and Jamie Shackleton. Perhaps it’s time to see more of him, Marcelo Bielsa.
The 19-year-old colossus signed a new four-year contract back in August, tying him to Elland Road until the summer of 2025.
Last year, he captained the U23s to Premier League 2 Division 2 glory, also earning a call-up to the England U21 squad, and has since made his Premier League debut after he started the 2-1 defeat to West Ham in September.
After signing his new deal, the teenager explained more about himself in an interview with the Yorkshire Evening Post.
“I’m confident, I’m a leader, I like to play and I like to head it! There’s lots of players in the first team that I look up to, the likes of Coops, Bill, they lead by example and that is what I want to try and follow,” he said.
However, standing at 6 foot 3 inches, the Whites prospect also carries a superb ball-playing ability – the kind which is synonymous with Virgil van Dijk.
As a player capable of playing that diagonal long-ball to kickstart attacks, he could be an interesting threat for Bielsa to deploy, on top of his clear defensive qualities.
During that aforementioned Premier League loss to the Irons, Cresswell led the team for touches and passes, with Football Insider dubbing him a ‘pass master’.
“It doesn’t matter how young he is. He’s shown that he can produce against some of the best in the Premier League,” ex-Leeds striker Noel Whelan then told the outlet.
Meanwhile, there were some fans who claimed that their youngster was even better than the Liverpool beast, so he could well have a bright future in the game.
United presenter Joe Wainman was also impressed by Cresswell. As relayed by This is Futbol, he said:
“These centre-backs that are not fit or are looking to come back into the side, they need to be worried, because that boy, for me, was unbelievable and I don’t think he should come out of the side. He’s a mainstay now, for me. I thought Cresswell was class, genuinely class.”
Only four teams in the Premier League have leaked more goals than Leeds this season, so it could be time to unleash Cresswell full-time in the starting XI, especially given his aforementioned qualities.
A leader who can spray balls out from the back? He has all the hallmarks to become a Van Dijk-like presence for Bielsa – just imagine him and Pascal Struijk for years to come.
It’s an exciting prospect, that’s for sure.