Leeds United have made a great start to the season, but the Whites’ loss to Birmingham City last weekend have bought the mood at Elland Road down somewhat. Though optimism should still be high, the loss does indicate that there is room for further improvement under Marco Bielsa.
One player that hasn’t had much of a chance yet this season is Lewis Baker. On loan from Chelsea, the young Englishman had a tough campaign last time out with Middlesbrough, but previously had impressed on loan at Vitesse in the Netherlands. He’s actually on a similar career path to Mason Mount of Derby, though he’s admittedly further along in the process, and given Mount’s impact at Derby – that shows what Baker could do at Elland Road. That said, his development is not going to continue at Mount’s rate if he’s not given a chance.
Now, Leeds’ attacking depth is strong, and it’s no real surprise that Baker has struggled to have much of a chance this term. However, rotation and competition for places is never a bad thing, and Bielsa would find a great player in Baker if he’s afforded an opportunity.
A creative midfielder, the Englishman is perhaps best used in a number 10 position, though he’s able to play out wide and slightly deeper if required. Primarily, he plays as a playmaker, which makes use of his best qualities.
Naturally, given his role, his quality with the ball at his feet is his best attribute. As technically gifted as anyone in the Championship, he’s able to dance around players with the ball with grace and poise, whilst he’s also just as comfortable pulling out a ranged pass from distance.
Significantly, he’s one of very few players that is genuinely two-footed. He’s able to use either his left or right interchangeably, even going as far as using alternating feet from set pieces. That says a lot about the sort of player that he is, and it indicates the sort of quality that Bielsa is missing out on.
So far, Bielsa has been right to not give Baker much of a chance. However, a couple of changes could help transform the Whites as they enter what is likely to be a difficult period. They shouldn’t dismiss Baker as a player that can’t make a difference; as he certainly can.
Leeds fans – thoughts?
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