Champion League

Exciting Leeds talent among 3 academy gems Farke could soon unleash

Leeds United have crafted a legacy for developing the next biggest stars through their academy and it’s one that has brought success for decades.

During their period in the top flight between the 1980’s and 2000’s, in particular, the Whites have always watched a prodigy rise through the youth ranks.

From David Seaman to James Milner and Jonathan Woodgate to Gary Speed, a whole host of Premier League icons started their careers in West Yorkshire.

In the present day, 17-year-old Archie Gray is flying the flag for the next generation of academy talent and Leeds have already planted a £50m price tag on his head amid interest from several European powerhouses.

The Englishman has heavily impressed across 16 appearances in the Championship, predominantly as a right-back, although there are a handful of other youngsters waiting in the wings for their chance to shine at Elland Road.

1
Sean McGurk

Upon his arrival from Wigan Athletic in 2021, Sean McGurk described himself as an “exciting” player to watch and the 20-year-old has certainly delivered on that promise.

An attacking midfielder, who likes to run in behind and score goals, McGurk has risen to prominence as one of the most influential players in the underage groups.

With an impressive four goals and three assists in eight appearances in Premier League 2, the Englishman is outscoring first-team star Georginio Rutter and is the under-21’s top scorer.



georginio-rutter-leeds-united-championship-daniel-farke

In the modern game, it is imperative that an attacking midfielder chips in with their fair share of contributions and the youngster has showcased his sharp eye for goal this term, especially in the entertaining 2-2 draw with Liverpool.

Leeds raced into a 2-0 lead against one of the league’s strongest academies and McGurk played a pivotal role, opening the scoring within the first few minutes himself before assisting striker Mateo Joseph.

Such all-action performances, driven by his quality in the final third, offer hope of him reaching a similar potential to academy graduates Kalvin Phillips and Lewis Cook, who have gone on to establish themselves at top-flight level.

2
Mateo Joseph

Leeds reportedly spent £900k to lure the teenage dynamo from Spanish side Espanyol in last year’s January transfer window.

European giants Barcelona and Manchester City were said to be keen on the youngster but as claimed by TEAMtalk, Orta’s ‘persistence’ paid off with the ex-Leeds chief securing a deal for him ahead of the competition.

Having netted 14 goals in 21 appearances for Espanyol’s under-19 side, including a hat-trick against Barcelona B, Leeds knew they were getting a special talent who possessed freakish scoring exploits, and he instantly carried those across to West Yorkshire.

In 19 Premier League 2 appearances last term, Joseph notched an eye-watering 15 goals, plundering hat-tricks against Derby County, Stoke City and Middlesbrough.

Such form saw the England U20 international make three appearances in the top flight last term, coming off the bench for minutes against Tottenham Hotspur, Manchester United and Chelsea.

After picking up a knock at the start of this campaign, the 20-year-old has only appeared in two matches in the Premier League 2, scoring and assisting in the 2-2 draw against Liverpool.

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He has also sent Farke a timely reminder of his talents by starring on the international with a goal in England U20s 3-2 victory over Germany.

With Farke alluding to him playing an “important” role in the club’s future, it’s only a matter of time before Joseph gets a chance to unleash his precocious talents on a regular basis in the first-team.

3
Darko Gyabi

Leeds were the latest club to benefit from Manchester City offloading their talented youngsters for a cut-price fee when they got rid of midfielder Darko Gyabi in 2022.

The excellent 19-year-old, who was once praised by journalist Joe Donnohue for his “complete” performance for the under-21s, has featured in five first-team fixtures in the senior side.

He came off the bench against Ipswich Town in August and has been an unused substitute in four other league matches this term, which underscores the mantra that Farke already sees him as a squad option at first-team level.

A combative midfielder, who can drive forward with the ball, Gyabi is excellent at winning back possession and can fulfil the role of becoming a screen in front of the defence.

In his three outings in the EFL Trophy this term, the England U20 star has showcased the above by winning 63% of his ground duels, making 2.3 tackles per game and 1.7 clearances, as per Sofascore.

The above statistics indicate that Gyabi is already accustomed to the demands of men’s football, albeit against lower-league opposition, and can offer Farke cover for tackling machine Ethan Ampadu.

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