Leeds United co-owner Andrea Radrizzani has promised to sustain and improve the club’s youth-team structure as part of his future plans after visiting the Thorp Arch academy last week.
Radrizzani said Leeds were aiming to expand their reach and recruitment in Yorkshire and revealed that immediate ideas for change were floated during meetings with academy manager Adam Underwood and other staff on Thursday.
United’s new shareholder, who acquired 50 per cent of the club at the start of this month, made the trip to Thorp Arch one of his first tasks after flying into England following the completion of his investment deal with Massimo Cellino.
Leeds’ academy is one of the most productive in the country, yielding a steady stream of first-team players including seven in Garry Monk’s current squad, and it holds category two status under English football’s Elite Player Performance Plan (EPPP).
The set-up at Thorp Arch was forced to cope with heavy financial cuts and repeated staff changes during Cellino’s reign as majority shareholder but Radrizzani gave the project his backing and said the club should be “proud” of their steady production line.
“I still need to study better what we have,” Radrizzani said. “I had the opportunity to meet the director of the academy (Adam Underwood) and I want to spend more time understanding how we work and how we can improve.
“They already expressed to me a few ideas, how things can be done a little bit better. The intention is to focus more on the Yorkshire area, to find more talent and have more legacy in the region.
“But we need to be proud that every year we are seeing some of our talented being requested by big clubs and having the chance to play.”
United’s development squad contested a friendly against Burnley at Thorp Arch yesterday. A side containing three trialists suffered a 1-0 defeat.