Leeds United could have a future star for many years to come in Lewis Bate.
The 19-year-old midfielder was snatched from Chelsea’s renowned academy in the summer for a seven-figure fee thought to be around £1.5m, though he is yet to make his senior bow under Marcelo Bielsa.
It could be time for the Argentinian head coach to unleash the shackles as the Yorkshire giants head into 2022, a year that could be defining for the club’s longevity in the big time.
A string of long-term injuries and inconsistencies on the pitch could see Bielsa and the club’s recruitment team, led by director of football Victor Orta, buck the trend of not spending in January.
Sat in 16th place, just five points above the relegation zone, something has got to change.
But perhaps they needn’t look much further than their Thorp Arch training base for one solution in midfield.
For a long time in the Bielsa era, the engine room has been a crucial cog to their success, none more so than long-serving Pole, Mateusz Klich. Very rarely has he been absent from the starting XI, until now.
He just hasn’t been good enough, so maybe it’s time to hand the baton to an up-and-comer in Bate.
“Primarily, Bate is a No. 6, able to play either role in a double 6, or in a 3 with two 8s. Despite being quick and robust for his size, the question during his transition into senior football is how much and how early he’ll be able to play as a solo No. 6., especially at a Premier League level,” once claimed U18 and U23 recruitment analyst Connor Rowden to LeedsLive.
“His ability to take control of the tempo of a game from deep, dropping into spaces and probing with his mastery of the short and long passing game is where he excels.”
Elsewhere, The Athletic’s Phil Hay has dubbed him “very gifted“, so all the hallmarks are there for him to become a suggests at Elland Road.
From his 16 appearances for the U23s, Bate has primarily played as a no.8, so he could well be the perfect man to feature over someone like Klich in 2022.
As such, his involvement could save chairman Andrea Radrizzani several millions of pounds in the upcoming window.