According to reports, Leeds are among a number of clubs interested in signing Barnsley starlet Callum Styles this summer.
The 21-year-old has been in fine form in the Championship this season, scoring five goals and providing a further three assists, and it’s no surprise that clubs across the country have sat up and taken notice.
Football League World have claimed that, along with Marcelo Bielsa’s side, the likes of Southampton and Norwich also have Styles on their radar; and that if the Tykes fail in their pursuit of promotion to the Premier League, it’s expected that the trio will put in a transfer enquiry for the versatile midfielder.
Styles first came to prominence when he became the first player born in the 21st century to play in the Football League when he came on for former club Bury against Southend back in May 2016.
Since then, he has transitioned into a versatile player who can play in central midfield, as an anchor man in front of the back four, or as a left wing-back like he has done for the majority of this season under Barnsley manager Valerien Ismael.
Before Ismael’s arrival, Styles was a permanent fixture in the heart of midfield, and it’s that area where Bielsa may feel the 21-year-old’s long-term future may lie at Elland Road – much like Cook.
Cook, who came through the academy at Thorp Arch, was someone who predominantly played in the middle of the park, but could also operate out wide just like he did in his final season at Elland Road in the 2015/16 campaign.
When you compare Cook’s underlying numbers from that season to Styles‘ this year, they are remarkably similar in nature. Both averaged over two tackles per game and a similar number of interceptions, while they also managed to record over a shot per game, marking them out as real box-to-box players.
After being awarded February’s EFL Young Player of the Month Award, Styles was open in how his performances have really gone up a notch this campaign.
He said: “I’ve always had goals in my game, but I feel like this is the season that I’ve come to life a little bit where scoring goals is concerned. I’ve been given the opportunity to go forward and get in those positions and when in the right positions you have to deliver at this level. Fortunately I have and I’ve got a few decent goals to my name.”
That ability to break into the box from deep in midfield has real shades of Cook, and it should make him a hugely enticing potential signing this summer for Victor Orta and co.