After weeks of uncertainty, Leeds United have some clarity on at least one pending issue. No, the club hasn’t hired a new head coach to replace Paul Heckingbottom. And no, the club has not made a transfer deal or signed a new player. Leeds did something better.
Pearce broke into the first team this past season, and made a few impressive outings down the stretch in the second half of the season after making his debut at home in a Yorkshire Derby against Sheffield Wednesday. He later scored his first goal for Leeds in another Yorkshire Derby against Barnsley FC.
The 20 year-old left back was one of the core members of a very successful U23 team at Leeds this past season and has pledged his immediate future to the club this off-season, along with fellow youth team members Oriol Rey, the up-and-coming 20 year-old midfielder and 19 year-old fullback Bryce Hosannah.
Other young players that made their debut for Leeds this season were 20 year-old defender Paudie O’Connor, 21 year-old midfielder/defender Connor Shaughnessy, 21 year-old defender Hugo Diaz, 21 year-old winger Madger Gomes, 17 year-old striker Ryan Edmondson, and the Leeds Young Player of the Year, 21 year-old goalkee Bailey Peacock-Farrell. In addition to those young players who made their debuts, Leeds also has 19 year-old midfielder Ronaldo Vieira and 22 year-old midfielder Kalvin Phillips.
While the youth development under Paul Heckingbottom was supposed to accelerate, he never seemed to fully embrace the youth movement, playing loanees such as Hamburger SV striker Pierre-Michel Lasogga and Everton defender Matthew Pennington instead of home-grown talent such as O’Connor or Edmondson. Hopefully the new manager, be it Marcelo Bielsa or not, will give the youth a chance to shine at Elland Road next season.