Over the past few days, it has been reported that Leeds United scouted and are looking to bring in English youth international and former Arsenal man Chris Willock. The 20-year-old forward currently plays for Benfica of the Portuguese top flight, though he has only appeared for their B team.
#lufc scout at Porto v Braga on Sat had watched 20yo Benfica FW Chris Willock in B team defeat to Penafiel earlier that day... Leeds tried to sign him before he went to Portugal pic.twitter.com/8GvFaEUdrL— Scouts in Attendance (@scoutsattending) November 12, 2018
This would likely be a move for the future, as Willock is clearly not yet developed enough to make a significant impact on Championship (or hopefully Premier League) level football. He has a somewhat concerning level of output, having scored just 2 goals so far this season. Another fact to consider is that Patrick Bamford should return from injury sometime in late December, which would put at least three strikers (Bamford, Kemar Roofe, and Tyler Roberts) ahead of Willock on Leeds’ team sheet.
Willock is a multi-talented forward who could line up as a striker, winger or even an attacking midfielder. A solid dribbler and passer, he is quite different from traditional target strikers like Romelu Lukaku and Josef Martinez, and this versatility should only increase his value. During his Arsenal days, he was a relatively slow (though effective) dribbler, taking his time to beat defenders or to find other options around him. As his level of competition has increased, he has been able to adapt and become a powerful and dynamic dribbler. This ability to change his style when needed is a good indicator that his potential could be quite high.
It would make much more sense for Leeds to outright buy Willock as opposed to bringing him in on-loan, because his long term value is much, much greater than his short term value. Interestingly, he is similar to Jay-Roy Grot in that he was once a highly-regarded academy player with a bright international future who somewhat fell off the map. However, if Marcelo Bielsa sees potential to revitalize his career much like Leeds did with Grot, then it is difficult to argue against bringing him in. For a look at his Arsenal career, check out these two videos from YouTube.