Football Manager 2024 is out now. The task of taking Leeds United back to the Premier League ought to pose an interesting challenge for budding tacticians. Leaning on the club’s Thorp Arch academy could be the key to success.
Players like Kalvin Phillips, Pascal Struijk and Illan Meslier have all made the step up from the youth ranks in recent years and their conveyor belt of emerging talent shows no sign of abating.
We’ve taken a look through the Football Manager 2024 database (via FMScout) to pick out seven Leeds wonderkids to look out for.
Son of former Leeds striker Richard Cresswell, the physically imposing centre-back has long been talked up as a future leader of Leeds’ backline.
He developed his game out on loan at Millwall last season but only has a handful of appearances for his boyhood club and is biding his time for further opportunities.
Daniel Farke has praised the 21-year-old’s exemplary attitude in training, though.
“I don’t praise just the players who were on the pitch today, our centre-backs, but it’s also good that we have players like Charlie Cresswell for example,” the Leeds manager told reporters in September.
“He makes sure that he trains each and every training session with a top-class performance and top-class mentality and he holds the pressure high because the likes of Pascal [Struijk] or Joe [Rodon] or today Liam [Cooper], they know, ‘Ok, we can’t afford to play with two per cent less concentration otherwise there is a top class player [waiting].”
Charlie Cresswell scoring his first goal for England U21's last night 🏴pic.twitter.com/MsT8OUhB1b
— LUFCMOT (@LUFCMOTcom) October 17, 2023
Cresswell isn’t the only highly-rated young defender on Leeds’ books; Portuguese centre-back Monteiro, 18, was signed from Servette in January.
The teenager is awaiting his first-team debut and is currently progressing his game in the youth ranks at Under-21 level. He’s contracted with the club until 2026 and it would be no surprise to see him push on to senior contention in the coming years.
Leeds United’s star boy.
A member of the Gray dynasty – son of Andy, great nephew of the legendary Eddie – the versatile youngster’s made a brilliant start.
He doesn’t turn 18 until next year but he’s already established himself as one of the first names on Farke’s teamsheet.
The only worry is quite how many minutes he’s playing at this fledgeling stage of his career, having also been used extensively by England’s Under-19s. Leeds will need to manage his workload carefully this season.
The Chelsea academy graduate was backed to follow in the footsteps of names like Marc Guehi, Dominic Solanke and Tariq Lamptey in kicking on away from Cobham.
But the 20-year-old midfielder is on the periphery of Farke’s squad and looks set to continue playing for the club’s youth side for the foreseeable future.
Bate has plenty of promise, which he showed in a decent loan stint at League One side Oxford United last season. But another loan away in January might be best for all concerned.
One to file alongside Bate, Gyabi moved from Manchester City as part of the deal that saw Kalvin Phillips move in the other direction.
He arrived as a reputation as a top prospect, but he’s only made a small number of underwhelming cameos to date.
Having bolstered their midfield in the summer, first-team opportunities for Gyabi look unlikely.
He’s turning out in the Under-21s, but at this stage there’s an argument that he’d fare better getting senior experience out on loan. Another one to watch in January.
The Italy international withdrew from matchday squads at the start of the season in a reported bid to force a move away. The summer saw an exile of wantaways – including the likes of Luis Sinisterra, Jack Harrison and Tyler Adams – but Leeds put their foot down and forced Gnonto to stay.
Farke handled the difficult situation with aplomb and has since welcomed the talented attacker back into the fold.
The jury remains out over whether Gnonto will win back over the fans, but he’s a real asset to have in the Championship. The 19-year-old is yet to quite replicate his early electric Premier League displays, but he has time on his side.
— Joe Catling (@JoeCatling_) August 26, 2023
A summer signing from Aberdeen that went somewhat under the radar amid the more headline-grabbing additions to Farke’s squad, Scottish striker Pirie arrived to bolster the youth ranks.
He’s still just 16 years of age, so any push for first-team contention is likely a while off just yet, but he’s one worth keeping an eye out for in the academy.
Pirie has three goals in five appearances in the Under-18 Premier League this season.