Leeds United will always be on the lookout for who could be the next Kalvin Phillips at Elland Road and Marcelo Bielsa may already have an ideal candidate in U23 gem Nohan Kenneh.
Many around west Yorkshire will be hoping that the talismanic anchorman will remain at the club for many, many more years but those with a sense of realism will know that may not be the case as his stock continues to rise on both the domestic and international stage.
It would, therefore, be wise to think ahead and consider who could be the man to replace him in the future and there isn’t a better fit than the 18-year-old midfielder.
Kenneh has admitted himself that he models his game on the Leeds first-team star, as well as former Premier League legend Patrick Vieira, who is now in charge of top-flight rivals Crystal Palace.
“Currently, I look up to Kalvin Phillips as we both play in a similar position but I occasionally watch videos of Patrick Vieira for his qualities in midfield,” he revealed a couple of years ago (in quotes via Football League World).
At 6 foot 2, playing in the same role, the teenager could well fit right in under Bielsa if his development continues in that manner and given how well Phillips has handled himself in recent years, the emerging Thorp Arch talent should hold his own in the big time, if even given that opportunity.
Kenneh has been lauded as a ‘supremely-gifted’ and versatile prodigy by The Athletic’s Phil Hay in the past, whilst The Roaring Peacock podcaster Matty Ingham has previously described the youngster as “one of the biggest prospects in the academy if we’re being honest. Big, physical presence, can carry the ball and he’s powerful and quick.”
The 18-year-old gem was part of the Whites’ Premier League 2 Divison Two title-winning squad, and has racked up 27 appearances for the U23s, including 12 matches in the Premier League 2 and three games in the EFL Trophy – even captaining the team once – this term alone, via Transfermarkt.
Also dubbed a “big prospect” and “one to watch” by Hay in a fan Q&A, the “really assertive” Kenneh is also similar to Phillips in terms of leadership and communication, having earned further praise from youth coach Mark Jackson, per LeedsLive.
He has certainly caught the eye of the Leeds faithful on social media in recent times and they should get even more excited by the prospect of having a potential heir to the throne.
On the above evidence, it’s surely a matter of time before we see the teen sensation get his chance in the senior set-up. He has early qualities that could replicate that of the England international.
In Kenneh, United may well have another Phillips.