Leeds United pinpoint Lewis Bate improvement as midfielder makes Elland Road strides

Lewis Bate continues to make small strides at Leeds United with each one taking him closer to exactly where he wants to be.

Friday, 8th October 2021, 8:32 am
Leeds United midfielder Lewis Bate. Pic: Bruce Rollinson

The 18-year-old midfielder swapped Chelsea for West Yorkshire in the summer, citing a clearer path to Premier League football and his adjustment at Thorp Arch has been swift.

He has featured in all seven of the club’s Premier League 2 games this term under development coach Mark Jackson – helping earn a first England Under-20s call last month.

Bate has also secured a singular EFL Trophy outing against League Two outfit Oldham Athletic – a game where his head coach challenged him to dictate the tempo of his side’s play in the heart of midfield.

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Bate did so to good effect, producing his best display in a white shirt since moving north against seasoned Football League pros.

He has headed away with the Three Lions Under-20s again this week and has done so in the knowledge that his progress at club level is moving along at an acceptable rate.

Against Oldham he was electric, controlling much of the game in a 3-2 victory. At the King Power against Leicester City’s academy last Friday night he was again in impressive form even in defeat.

His pinpoint passing, ability to drive forward with the ball and breaking up of play was on display for all to see.

Bate was thought of as among a group of players at Chelsea who could be in a similar bracket to Mason Mount but his pathway was severely blocked at last season’s Champions League winners.

It remains to be seen whether he can do at Leeds what he could not do at Stamford Bridge – but three months into his transfer and he’s ticking over nicely.

Leeds saw his signature from the Blues as a major coup in the summer and Jackson has got to work immediately. Bate has played as a No 10, a No 8 and, more recently, as a No 6 – displaying the ability to excel in all three positions.

“Lewis is a really effective player with the football,” the Under-23s boss told the YEP.

“He looks after it, he sees passes, he can execute passes, that part of his game is really, really strong and obviously we want to encourage that and develop that even further, which we will.”

Leeds are now working on his adaptation into the Bielsa-ball ranks and have already identified what they want to see to take him to the next level.

Midfield has been an issue for United’s first-team squad, though calls for Bate to step up are a little premature given he is still progressing.

The traits, though, are all there. He just needs to refine his skills under the watchful eye of Thorp Arch’s coaching staff.

“Where Lewis is adapting now and where we’re working with Lewis, you talk about advice we’re giving him, is probably his out of possession work,” Jackson continued.

“We’re working really, really hard with him to obviously help him recover the ball more, deal with the one-v-ones and the duels that happen in our system of play with a man-to-man system.

“Credit to the staff as well who are working with Lewis hard in the gym, because he needs to develop that strength and that power to help transfer that onto the pitch, when he’s up against an individual in a defensive duel.

“So that side of the game is something we speak to Lewis a lot about, as well as other parts of his game, but we talk about priorities when they come in.

“That element of his game, that physicality, that power, that defensive aspect of his game is something we’re prioritising at the minute.”

Bate was joined by fellow Leeds prospects Cody Drameh and Sam Greenwood in England’s Under-20s squad, who faced Italy in Chesterfield last night as the midfielder scored in the 1-1 draw.

Under-23s captain Charlie Cresswell and forward Joe Gehardt are also involved for the Three Lions Under-21s over the current international break – a major tip of the hat to the ongoing work in West Yorkshire.

“It [international call-ups] says a lot for the calibre of players we’ve got at the football club,” Jackson said.

“That’s a credit to the coaches within it for those we’ve developed within the club, it’s a credit to the recruitment staff with the players we’ve brought in – and it’s credit to the players first and foremost because they play the games and get themselves selected.”