When Sam Byram was awarded his first professional contract in May 2012 at aged 18 and then impressed in the first team that season, Leeds fans expected big things.
Despite missing the whole 2013/14 season with a hip injury, he came back strong the following campaign and leapt at the chance to join Premier League West Ham in January 2016, where things started to go downhill.
He bagged three goals and one assist in his impressive 2014/15 season but in hindsight was not ready for the Premier League step. His four-and-a-half-year-deal has led to Byram appearing just 36 times with Pablo Zabaleta seen as a clear first choice.
The inconsistent playing time may be a factor in the increasing amount of injuries he’s suffered since his move too, such as long-term hamstring injury he recovered from last season. Those injuries may not have occurred if he built up his playing time with Leeds.
The 24-year-old has now joined Nottingham Forest on loan in the hope to earn more minutes and place his career back on track. The issue will be that there are other players he’ll be competing with who have much more playing time under their belt.
The season before his West Ham move, then Leeds head coach Neil Redfearn warned the club’s owners they should keep hold of their young guns, but now it’s the Whites who are in a better position.
Leeds have been playing exciting football so far this season under new manager Marcelo Bielsa and are favourites for promotion. If the midfielder hadn’t jumped so quickly to West Ham, he could have been one of the established members of this exciting squad.
If Byram would have stayed at Leeds he could have earned his move after more than one solid season and had more of a chance to make it into a Premier League team. But he can’t afford to look back now.
With age still very much on his side, he must start all over again and work his way into a Championship outfit where he will play regularly. If he can prove why there was so much interest in him as a youngster, he has plenty of chance to revive his career.