'We have a plan to get him there' - Leeds United Under 23s chief on potential and process for new signing

Leeds United have a plan in place to get Mateo Joseph Fernandez to where they want him, but it will take time.

By Joe Urquhart
Thursday, 6th January 2022, 3:43 pm

Under-23s head coach Mark Jackson saw his development squad bolstered by the 18-year-old's signature this week - the club's first foray into the January transfer market.

The Whites have extensively researched their new player, so much so they were unwilling to let him become a free agent in the summer.

La Liga giants Barcelona held genuine interest in his services - though were unable to agree a deal despite a £1.3million release clause - while Manchester City and Liverpool are said to have scouted him considerably.

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It is obvious that 44 goals in 56 games across three seasons in Espanyol's youth system would create hype but it is the other attributes he holds - physical and technical - which appear to have made Leeds blink first.

"We liked the work from the recruitment department from Victor Orta and his staff, the work is obviously extensive," Jackson told The Yorkshire Evening Post of the youngster's arrival.

"We were part of that process in the summer looking at the player - he was one of a number that we looked at.

"In regards to his profile, he is a player who fits what we're looking at. He moves well, he has good agility and he's got a good physical frame. Overall he has potential to develop - that is the key thing.

NEW BOY - Mark Jackson says Leeds United have a plan in place for Under 23s signing Mateo Joseph Fernandez.

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"Physically, technically and tactically we feel as a club we are the right fit for him where he can develop and be a really good player for us. He obviously thinks that as well."

Like those who have gone before - Joe Gelhardt, Crysencio Summerville, Cody Drameh and Sam Greenwood - patience and a period of learning will be needed as he adapts to life in West Yorkshire alongside the local talent.

Joseph holds Spanish citizenship but is also eligible to represent England through his parents. There was also an expectation at Espanyol that he would take his first steps towards being integrated into the club's senior set up this season though contract complications put an end to those hopes.

It is a transfer that comes with a certain youthful buzz though is going to be a lengthy building up process over the next few weeks and months.

"We are really optimistic about what he can bring to the table," Jackson added. "Like any young player coming in there will be a time of adaptation to how we play and the physical demands.

"He's a player with potential and that is all it is at the minute. We see the potential and we have a plan to get him there but it won't be immediately. Through no fault of his own he's not been training in a full on environment in recent times. We're probably going to have to dip him in and out - that goes for training as well.

"We've been assessing where he is physically with the medical staff but also working with him in small groups to introduce him into the ideas of how we play and what the expectations are.

"There's a lot of position specific work we want to try to introduce him to, which will take time. It bodes well because if he can do all that and gain the understanding of how we play, that will help him develop. We have a clear plan for him - all parties are included in that whether it's physical, technical or tactical. Obviously we have to be mindful of a young player settling in a new country, which sometimes takes time.

"Having met him and his family he is going to be well supported, which is good to hear."