Now that Garry Monk is on board and the managerial saga is resolved, it’s time for Leeds United to improve the playing stocks ahead of the upcoming season. And while there have been plenty of rumours from the recruiting trail, some more realistic than others, we have turned to a familiar source to secure some new talent for Monk to work with.
United conducted some internal business last week by announcing the signing of Jack Vann, Michael Taylor and Tom Pearce to their first professional contracts. All three are recent graduates of the Leeds Untied youth academy.
Having seen the likes of Lewis Cook, Alex Mowatt and Charlie Taylor become mainstays after progressing through the youth system (pour one out for Sam Byram too), there are high hopes that each can become first team regulars as soon as the 2016-17 season.
Leeds then concluded their biggest week of the offseason by completing a two-year contract extension for promising goalkeeper Bailey Peacock-Farrell. Besides having the best name in football, Peacock-Farrell is one of the most promising goalkeeper prospects in England and looks an eventual replacement for current placeholder Marco Silvestri.
Let’s have a quick look at each signing and how they can help United.
Pearce is a versatile left footer who has played a number of positions across defence and midfield throughout his time with the United academy.
The teenager joined the club from Everton in 2014 and quickly established himself within United’s youth set-up. Pearce made 26 appearances and scored eight goals during the 2015-16 season. He scored multiple goals directly from free kicks and would offer a much needed boost at set pieces.
Pearce’s flexibility makes him an intriguing addition to the playing stocks. With more goals needed to climb up the table, Pearce’s attacking prowess should allow him to press for selection at some point during the upcoming campaign. His initial focus must be greater consistency at the under-21 level, but accomplish that and a first team debut won’t be far away.
The 18-year-old said that joining Leeds is a dream come true and that the club presents a great opportunity for him to show what he can do.
Vann is an 18-year-old defender who made 40 appearances with youth teams during the 2015-16 season. His best position is centre-back and when asked to describe his style of play, Vann told Leeds United’s official website:
"I’d probably describe myself as quite an old-fashioned defender – I like to head it a lot and put in tough tackles. Hopefully, I can be a bit of a ball player as well."
Following the departure of Scott Wootton, there is an opening in defence for the 18-year-old to target. Liam Cooper and Sol Bamba are the names likely to start the season in central defence but Vann looks to be a gifted prospect who could challenge for game time. He should be a player Monk looks at introducing to first team football very early during his tenure.
Having been in the United system since 2006, Vann is well aware of the academy players that have come before him and sounds eager to be the next youth prospect to prosper at United.
Taylor is a right back who captained the United Under-18 side for the majority of 2015-16. He was rewarded with a one year contract after finishing his two year scholarship at Thorp Arch, a feat made even more impressive given the life threatening injury he sustained last year.
Toward the end of the 2014-15 season, the teenager suffered a serious neck injury that caused a substantial break in his career. Luckily for Taylor, his injury healed just in time to start the 2015-16 campaign.
Taylor describes himself as an old fashioned full back who likes to get stuck in and go forward on the attack. Just like Vann, the departure of backline regulars could open up opportunities for Taylor to make his debut this season.
The 18-year-old took to Twitter to show his happiness after signing his first professional contract. Welcome aboard Michael!
We all witnessed the dawn of Peacock-Farrell’s career this season and it’s great to have him re-signed through 2018. The young shot stopper broke into the squad last November and made first team debut against Queens Park Rangers in April.
Despite serving as understudy to Marco Silvestri under Steve Evans, Peacock-Farrell is clearly United’s goalkeeper of the future and has significant talent to match. He reportedly turned down approaches from the likes of Everton and Aston Villa to remain with Leeds.
Peacock-Farrell admitted that he was impressed by the appointment of Monk, and it would surprise no one if the youngster were between the pipes when Monk opens his Leeds United career in August.