Leeds United’s academy is famed for producing young talent of the highest quality, but their inability to offer Premier League football is a notable problem when it comes to securing the long-term future of outstanding prospects.
Perhaps Marcelo Bielsa will change that this season and put Leeds back in a position from which to offer the level of progression their star academy products are after but, unfortunately, Bielsa was not around when Lewis Cook was breaking through at Elland Road.
The creative midfielder made his debut for the senior side at just 17-years-of-age, and the immediacy of his impact completely amazed the Leeds supporters.
Cook boasted a level of confidence in possession which is seldom seen in players who are breaking through before they are even old enough to purchase a pint down the local, with his technical ability and quick-witted decision making particularly catching the eye.
Before he had even reached his 18th birthday Cook had established himself as a first-team regular, predominantly operating from the right-wing as opposed to his preferred central position.
Such was the enormity of his potential it was absolutely no surprise that Bournemouth came calling for his signature in 2016, and the two clubs settled on a fee of just £6.3 million before the Whites faithful waved goodbye to a talent who seems destined to eventually establish himself at international level.
Cook made his England debut earlier this year as the Three Lions prepared for the World Cup in Russia, replacing Jesse Lingard in the 70th minute during a 1-1 draw with Italy at Wembley.
It was a significant step for a player who is yet to cement his place in Eddie Howe’s starting eleven but, based on the potential he has showcased since he arrived in the Premier League, it will only be a matter of time before he becomes a mainstay in Bournemouth’s midfield.
Leeds secured a profit of £6.3 million on Cook and for any Championship club that represents excellent business, financially speaking at least, but there’s no doubt the supporters would rather have kept the 21-year-old in Yorkshire to boost their chances of ending their top-flight exile.
Considering Cook’s immaculate technique and incisive vision for a killer pass, it’s fair to say he would have thrived under the Argentine’s tutelage.
Leeds fans – thoughts? Let us know below!
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