If Andrea Radrizzani wants to make himself a hero to the Leeds United faithful, he could learn a lot from the previous owner’s mistakes. Massimo Cellino was infamous for selling on the young talent that the Leeds Academy produced, and while the pounds that were generated from the sales has helped keep the club afloat, it has proven to be a tad shortsighted, with the talent flowing out of the club that could otherwise be used to take the team forward to promotion to the Premier League and the promised land of pound notes and champagne.
The recent success of Lewis Cook in captaining the England U-20s in South Korea at the FIFA U-20 World Cup has to sting for almost all Leeds fans. After all, we were told that he was going nowhere, that he was a critical part of the future at Leeds, until he was sold to AFC Bournemouth last summer for £6 million.
And while his time at Bournemouth this past year was marred by injury and seemed to not live up to expectations, he is having a breakout tournament for the U-20s, as he is going to be the first England captain to take his team to a finals of a international tournament since Bobby Moore in the 1966 World Cup. While the hype train is currently going full-blast for the young ex-Leeds player, success at this level can be fleeting, but it is a good indication of the talent that the young player possesses.
Another Leeds Academy product is also starring for England at an international tournament. Ronaldo Vieria has been one of the key performers for the England team that is currently in the final of the Toulon Tournament in France. That team is also currently in the finals, where they will play Ivory Coast, to see if England can defend their title that they won last year under the management of Gareth Southgate. While Vieria hasn’t had the kind of impact that Cook has had at the U-20 World Cup, he has been a vital part of the team.
Yorkshire Evening Post: Leeds United star Ronaldo Vieira set for Toulon grand finale with England Under-... https://t.co/vSZ1OsbBVG— Leeds News App (@LeedsNewsApp) June 8, 2017
The tale of these two midfielders is a good lesson for Radrizzani to take to heart. Keeping the young players at Elland Road will pay dividends. While Cellino cashed in early on Cook for a mere £6 million, keeping a squad of young players together can result in a much bigger payday. Bournemouth is actually the perfect example, as that club has kept its core intact as it rose up through the ranks of English football, as Bournemouth was playing in League One as recently as the 2012-13 season, and was promoted to the Premier League only two years later as winners of the Championship.
For the want of a few million pounds the past few years, Cellino missed out on the chance of an even bigger payday. Much has been made of the amount of money that Sunderland recently received as the bottom club of the Premier League being greater than the league payoff for the champions of almost every other European league. Sunderland got close to £100 million for just being in the league, showing just how valuable the promotion to the Premier League is for clubs, and why keeping talent is a good investment in the future.
Radrizzani has already signed Vieria to a four-year contract, and has said he is committed to retaining young players. Let’s hope that he speaks the truth, for the Leeds Academy can produce the talent to drive the team forward and launch Leeds into Premier League safety, if it is kept at the club and not sold on too soon. The Academy is producing Premier League players. Keep them at the club and soon Leeds will be a Premier League team.