Premier League Leeds United not abandoning youth policy, new deals in the works for prospects

Leeds United might be fishing in different ponds now that they're a Premier League club, but despite all the planned recruitment this summer there is no plan to throw the Thorp Arch 'babies' out with the bathwater.

Friday, 7th August 2020, 11:28 am
Updated Friday, 7th August 2020, 11:32 am
PROSPECT - Alfie McCalmont is expected to put pen to paper on a new deal in the coming days for Leeds United

Young players who were on the fringe of Marcelo Bielsa's matchday squad, but had heavy involvement in first team life on the training pitches while getting their match minutes in Under 23s games and murderball, are still seen a very much part of the club's future.

That much will be recognised with a series of new contracts that are currently in the works.

Ryan Edmondson, who has been sent on loan to Scottish Premiership side Aberdeen until January, is in line for a new deal at Elland Road. The YEP understands Edmondson is due to agree a three-year contract as, if all goes to plan, he gets a first sustained taste of senior football with the Dons. The striker made his debut as a second half substitute against Rangers and showed glimpses of his ability to handle the physicality of the professional game.

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Alfie McCalmont, a defensive midfielder who has been moulded in the style of his senior counterpart Kalvin Phillips, is another who will sign a fresh contract.

Jamie Shackleton, who siezed his late 2019/20 season first team opportunities with both hands, scoring against Derby County and Charlton, has a year left on his current deal but an extension is being talked about.

And Pascal Struijk, the centre-half who announced himself as a potent defensive midfielder with his performances in Phillips' position in the final stages of the title-winning campaign, is thought to have impressed sufficiently to warrant talk of a possible new contract. His existing deal runs out in 2022.

A number of Leeds' young players will join Edmondson in temporary spells elsewhere next season in an attempt to give them the first team football they need to continue their development.

The likes of midfielder Robbie Gotts and winger Jordan Stevens, both very well liked by Bielsa, could be among that group.

And a handful of fresh new recruits will be brought in to ensure there is still a good crop of young players learning Bielsaball in the 23s and in first team training. Leeds won the race for Northern Irish teen Charlie Allen, they are closing in on Fulham's Cody Drameh and expected to confirm the arrival of Joe Gelhardt over the next week.

While the Whites cannot promise first team minutes to any new signing, they can sell an Elland Road move on the back of Bielsa's player development method and how much he relies on young players. And with Category One status secured for the academy, they are now well placed to battle with England's top clubs for international and domestic prospects.