Leeds United striker Patrick Bamford's five-year plan and Premier League prediction

Leeds United's Patrick Bamford has belonged to just three other football clubs in his career but still lived a somewhat nomadic lifestyle.

By Graham Smyth
Sunday, 10th May 2020, 5:55 am
SETTLED - Patrick Bamford says Leeds United is the club where he's felt most settled. Pic: Bruce Rollinson
SETTLED - Patrick Bamford says Leeds United is the club where he's felt most settled. Pic: Bruce Rollinson

The striker began life in his home county at Nottingham Forest, coming through the academy and made his Championship debut as an 18-year-old substitute on December 31 2011.

Exactly one month later he was on the move for the first time, bought by Chelsea for around £1.5m.

As has been the way for many Stamford Bridge youngsters, loan spells were a vehicle for first team football and vital experience as Bamford developed.

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League One MK Dons were the first to benefit from his ability, as the success of his first loan move led to two extensions and, eventually 21 goals in 44 appearances.

A step up in competition followed, with Championship Derby County, for whom he hit eight goals in 23 games.

Nineteen 2014/15 goals helped Middlesbrough to the Championship play-off final at Wembley. Defeat by Norwich City meant Boro were not bound for the Premier League, but Bamford was, joining Crystal Palace on loan for the first half of the following season.

A lack of first team opportunities saw that deal curtailed and a new one struck with Norwich, but he played just seven top flight games before the summer and returned to Chelsea.

PREDICTION - Patrick Bamford says if Leeds United reach the Premier League they'll stay there. Pic: Jonathan Gawthorpe

Another loan, this time to Premier League Burnley, was cut short before he returned to Middlesbrough, this time as a permanent signing.

Relegation saw him return to the Championship with Boro for the 2017/18 season and, following a 13-goal haul and another unsuccessful involvement in the play-offs, he joined Leeds in a £7m deal.

Bamford has spent almost two years at Elland Road and despite his winding journey around the footballing landscape, he's still just 26.

"I've been around quite a well, my name's been around quite a while so it feels like I'm getting on a bit," he saidi.

"To be honest 26 does feel like I'm no longer a young player, I'm one of the younger more experienced players if that makes sense."

Getting to experience life under different managers, in different regions of the country began positively for the striker, Leeds' top goalscorer this season.

But the more he was farmed out by Chelsea, the more he wanted to find a home. And at the Riverside, he thought he had.

"I remember going out on loan all the time to various clubs, it was good to start with," he said.

"As it came to the last few clubs I remember thinking I need a club to settle at. I thought that was Middlesbrough when I signed there permanently.

"Then the opportunity came to come here."

And finally Bamford feels settled. Certainly enough to be able to look five years down the line and quite happy imagine himself wearing a white shirt and running out at Elland Road.

In his mind's eye, there's a Premier League badge on that shirt because if they do return to the top flight - Leeds sat top by a point with nine games to go when the Championship season was suspended - Bamford believes they'll stick.

"I don't think I've ever been at a club and been as settled in terms of the area, I'm close to my family, I love the club, the training ground, I love the lads," he said.

"Everything about it is perfect.

"So for me I would be delighted to be here for the foreseeable future in terms of the next five years and see what we can achieve.

"I feel like this is the kind of club that when we do get in the Premier League, we'll stay there and we'll do all we can to get back to the heights that Leeds were once at."