In the latest instalment of our Loan Watch feature, The Transfer Tavern take a look at how Leeds United defender Charlie Cresswell is faring during his spell at Millwall.
The 20-year-old came through the youth ranks at Elland Road and was part of the first-team squad for much of last season. He made five Premier League appearances, four from the substitutes’ bench, and also featured in the Carabao Cup.
This season, though, Leeds have decided that it would be better for Cresswell’s development if he is playing more regularly at first-team level, hence the decision to send him to The Den on a season-long loan.
Cresswell has already been able to earn the trust of his manager Gary Rowett, meaning that he has the platform to impress. He has started five of Millwall’s eight Championship games so far, and come off the bench on another occasion.
What jumps out straight away is that he has already managed to score three goals and provide one assist, demonstrating that he can be a massive threat in the opposition penalty box. Remarkably, the centre-back is the team’s top scorer, with none of his team-mates able to find the net more than once so far.
Beyond that, Cresswell is averaging 1.7 interceptions per game, ranking him second in the Millwall squad and demonstrating his ability to defend on the front foot and read the game.
He is also winning 4.7 headers per game and prevailing in 68% of his aerial duels up to this point, while encouragingly he has showcased his distributive qualities with 2.8 accurate long passes per match, placing him in the Lions’ top four.
Millwall team-mate Billy Mitchell says that Cresswell ‘took everyone by surprise’ on his debut and has shown what he brings – ‘aggression aerially and in both boxes’ – while Murray Wallace has raved about the 20-year-old’s ‘excellent’ approach and says that he has ‘everything you want from a centre-back‘.
Leeds’ backline appears in need of strengthening, with Gabriel Agbonlahor criticising their ‘kamikaze defending’ in the 5-2 defeat against Brentford last week and warning that further punishment could be in store if things don’t improve (via Football Insider).
The statistics justify his concern – only Bournemouth, Leicester City and Nottingham Forest have conceded more goals than the Whites’ 10 in the Premier League so far this season.
Perhaps in Cresswell they already have an in-house solution to this glaring weakness.
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