Leeds United head coach Daniel Farke was backed by the board over the course of the summer transfer window as nine first-team recruits were brought in to bolster the squad.
Ilia Gruev, Joel Piroe, Joe Rodon, Djed Spence, Ethan Ampadu, Glen Kamara, Karl Darlow, Sam Byram, and Jaidon Anthony were all signed to improve the group.
The Whites are currently third in the Championship and those signings have played their part in the club’s relative success so far this season.
However, Farke has also displayed a willingness to give academy prospects a chance as 17-year-old Archie Gray has already made 13 league starts this term.
One young gem who could follow in the England U19 international’s footsteps at Elland Road is currently U21s starlet Charlie Crew, who could be Farke’s eventual heir to summer signing Ampadu.
Ampadu’s season in numbers
The Wales international was signed from Chelsea and has hit the ground running as an impressive figure in the heart of Farke’s midfield this term.
He has been a terrific defensive presence for Leeds and been crucial in how they want to dominate possession by being able to consistently win the ball back off the opposition.
Ampadu in 23/24 Championship (via Sofascore)
The 23-year-old ace has also made more blocks (1.1) than any of his teammates and these statistics illustrate how impressive his work off the ball has been for the Whites.
Why Charlie Crew could be Ampadu’s heir
Former Leeds U21 boss Michael Skubala, who is now in charge of League One side Lincoln City, has backed U21s starlet Crew to have a big future ahead of him.
The 17-year-old talent’s attitude was described as a “first class” by his ex-manager, who also claimed that the teenage gem has “real potential” to develop into an excellent holding midfielder, due to his passing range and aggression.
Skubala, however, added that Crew needs more time to develop his physicality in order to compete at first-team level. However, the technical and mental attributes, according to the tactician’s comments, are already there for him to be a superb number six.
He only turned 17 in June and there is no rush for him to make an immediate transition to senior football as Gray’s development and progression, at the same age, is an outlier, rather than normality.
The teenage battler has already played eight Premier League 2 matches for the U21 side this season, having been promoted from the U18 set-up to make nine appearances last term, and the next step is for him to make his first-team debut.
Crew, who started his youth career with Cardiff, is a current Wales U21 international and has captained his country at U19 level, which speaks to how highly he is rated at international level as both a player and a leader.
In fact, the Welsh talent trained with the senior squad in an international break earlier this season and Ampadu, who is a first-team star for his country alongside Joe Rodon, claimed that the U21s gem “embraced” the opportunity and showed no fear.
Crew is still in the early stages of his development but has clearly impressed for club and country, given Skubala and Ampadu’s comments, and could be the long-term heir to the defensive midfield position at Elland Road.