Leeds United’s prestigious academy has been working overtime in recent years, having produced some incredible talent the likes of which played a big role in their survival last term.
Although acquired as a youngster, Joe Gelhardt came up with some vital goals and assists at important moments for Jesse Marsch, who then enjoyed a burst of success from Crysencio Summerville this season before the World Cup halted his momentum.
As such, the American ran out of leeway and was dismissed just last month, leaving Javi Gracia as the man to pick up the pieces and guide the Whites to safety once again.
Whilst the academy will likely be low down in the Spaniard’s list of priorities, come the conclusion of the campaign he will likely be pleasantly surprised with the wealth of talent available to him who all are pushing for first-team spots.
One such example could be Archie Gray, who despite being incredibly young arguably boasts the brightest future.
Can Archie Gray be Leeds’ own Ronaldinho?
At just 16 years old, this teenage sensation already has numerous Premier League 2 appearances under his belt and this season has assisted twice in the four he has featured in this season.
Are you excited for Archie Gray’s future?
The gem, who turns 17 this month, has played 19 times for the club’s U21 side in total and has been called up by England at U15, U16, and U17 level in his short career to date.
It marks an impressive maturity and quality that belie his youth, only serving to solidify his status as “the future of the club“; a claim uttered by Gracia himself in a press conference earlier this week.
There is precedent to believe that, with Gray’s focus being more on the skillful side of the game rather than the tangible, his emergence could indicate Leeds receiving their very own Ronaldinho.
Even Dan James suggested that: “the ability he’s got is something that he can take to be one of the best players in the Premier League if not the world.”
Having been brought up on futsal and Brazilian soccer schools, his close control and quality with the ball at his feet are unparalleled for someone of his age.
Legendary Portugal midfielder Deco once said of Ronaldinho that he “did things that I’ve never seen anyone do“, and in Gray, there is a suggestion he too could boast that maverick streak that could make him a true star.
Like the former Barcelona wildcard, Gray is an attacking midfielder and could be a creative spark in the middle of the pitch for the Whites – assisting four goals for the U21s already despite his young age.
The future of the club will remain sparkling with the youngster in midfield, and Gracia will surely have one eye on a senior promotion should he continue to capture the imagination.