The Leeds United Youth Academy is up there with the best football talent factories in English football, a real hotbed.

The club has a well-earned reputation for nurturing talent, regularly supplying players to the senior squad and other clubs.

In recent memory, the likes of Alan Smith, James Milner, Aaron Lennon, Fabian Delph, etc. all came through the Leeds United talent conveyer belt and went on to play at the highest level for club and country.

With several key players set to leave the club following relegation from the Premier League, Leeds United’s recruitment strategy ahead of the new season will come under intense scrutiny.

So, how will the incoming manager, backed by the new 49ers regime, refashion the playing squad in readiness for the rigours of the Championship?

In my book, we need change and continuity. Ideally the squad would be a mix of seasoned campaigners equipped for the demands of the second tier with a sprinkling of talented academy graduates – the young bucks learning off their more experienced fellow professionals.

Below, I take a look at the young players who could make a significant contribution to the senior squad this coming season and even go on to form the backbone of the squad in future.

Archie Gray

For me, Archie Gray, who joined the club’s youth academy when he was eight years old, is one of the most exciting emerging talents at Leeds United. 

The 17-year-old creative midfielder is highly rated and being touted as one for the future. That future could arrive sooner rather than later for the gifted playmaker.

Testament to his talent, Gray is an England youth international having featured seven times for the U16s and four times for the U17s.

Sam Greenwood

Greenwood swapped the Arsenal youth academy for the Leeds United academy in 2020.

The 21-year-old striker is so highly regarded that several Championship clubs were credited with an interest in signing him on loan last season.

Greenwood was a regular in the match-day squad last season, although  playing opportunities were few and far between. His contribution was limited to cameos off the bench, including a telling  contribution during the come-from-behind 3-2 win over Wolves at Molineux.

The highly rated forward is expected to make the step up this season and establish himself as an integral part of the first-team squad.

Leif Davis

Leif Davis joined the Leeds United Youth Academy at 16. He made his senior bow in the 1-1 draw against Manchester City on October 3, 2020.

After a loan spell at Bournemouth during the 2021-22 season, Ipswich Town paid Leeds United a seven-figure fee to sign the pacey and attack-minded left-back.

We could do worse than bring the 23-year old back to Elland Road.

Joe Gelhardt 

Joe Gelhardt caught the eye while coming through the various youth age groups at Wigan Athletic. The young striker joined Leeds United from Wigan in 2020 following the Latics’ relegation to the third tier.

An excellent dribbler with an eye for goal, Gelhardt made his first-team debut under Marcelo Bielsa in the EFL Cup clash against Fulham.

Next season could be Gelhardt’s proper breakthrough campaign. With Leeds United back in the Championship, the striker’s four-month loan spell at Sunderland, during which he helped the Black Cats reach the promotion play-offs, will stand him and Leeds United in good stead for the season ahead.

Cody Drameh

A promising right-back signed from Fulham in August 2020. The 21-year-old has already demonstrated his potential in the Premier League, putting himself in the category of young players tipped to force their way into the first-team reckoning for the upcoming season and beyond – if Leeds United decide not to sell.

Drameh has one year left on his contract and reports suggest Leeds United are open to selling him, with newly promoted Burnley rumoured to be among the right-back’s suitors.

Charlie Cresswell

A centre-back who has been with the club since the age of six, Cresswell was promoted to the first-team squad this season.

The 20-year-old did his reputation no harm with some impressive displays while on a season-long loan at Millwall, during which he put himself into the shop window. 

Per Athletic journalist Phil Hay, Cresswell’s Leeds United future is uncertain, with an unnamed German Bundesliga and Premier League clubs reportedly keeping tabs on his situation.

Glasgow Rangers also reportedly had an offer for the centre back rejected this week.

Crysencio Summerville

Summerville joined Leeds United from Feyenoord in October 2020. Since then the forward has racked up 40 appearances for the club in all competitions.

After some eye-catching displays this season, the 21-year-old is one of the players tipped to leave the club, an inevitability occasioned by relegation.

Several Premier League and European clubs, including the player’s former club Feyenoord, are reportedly circling around.

What a massive boost it would be ahead of the new season if Leeds United can convince the Dutch youth international to stay on. 

Summerville is under contract until 2026. However, media reports claim his contract has a £20m release clause.


I'm Barrie Jarrett, born in Leeds, lived over a decade in South Africa, CEO And Co Founder of Planet Sport Limited and Planet Bet Limited.

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