Leeds United head coach Daniel Farke has paved the pathway for the current crop of academy stars to make their respective breakthrough at first-team level.
The German tactician was brought in over the summer to oversee a hopeful promotion-winning campaign back to the Premier League at the first time of asking.
However, the pressure to mount a promotion push has not stopped the ex-Norwich City boss from leaning on the inexperienced youth within the Whites squad.
17-year-old gem Archie Gray has featured in 15 of their 16 league matches this season and his progression shows that the opportunities will be there for the U21 stars if they do enough to catch Farke’s eyes.
With this in mind, one player whom Leeds and their supporters should be getting excited about is 19-year-old forward Luca Thomas, who has produced more goals and assists than first-team ace Wilfried Gnonto this season.
Luca Thomas’ season in numbers
The teenage dynamo has caught the eye with his impressive performances for the U21s this season and could be a future star for the Whites.
Thomas, who can play down the middle as a centre-forward or out wide on either flank, has racked up three goals and one assist in six Premier League 2 appearances this term, along with one goal in one Premier League Cup outing.
This means that the young ace, whose “class” display was hailed by journalist Thomas Hill earlier this season, has been directly involved in five goals in seven matches across those two competitions.
The Thorp Arch academy starlet made the step up to the U21 squad this year after an eye-catching return of 23 goals and three assists in 32 matches at U18 level for the club.
Whilst there is no guarantee that the 19-year-old whiz will be able to translate those performances over to first-team level, Thomas’ form is exciting due to the potential he has to become a senior option – particularly when you consider that the gem is outperforming Gnonto as it stands.
Gnonto’s season in numbers
The Italy international, who handed in a transfer request and attempted to secure an exit from Elland Road over the summer, has not enjoyed the greatest of starts to the season.
He has only contributed with one goal and one assist in ten Championship appearances for Farke’s side throughout the 2023/24 campaign so far.
The 20-year-old talent has been given plenty of opportunities to stake a claim for his place in the side with six starts but has not been able to produce consistent quality in the final third.
Gnonto also failed to provide a goal or an assist in his EFL Cup outing against Salford, which means that the young gem has been involved in two goals in 11 appearances in all competitions this term.
Therefore, Thomas has racked up three more goals and assists combined in four fewer appearances than the Italian prospect this season, albeit at U21 level in comparison to Championship and League Cup action, and Leeds should be excited by his potential as a goalscorer and creator.