Tom Pearce has shown himself to be a wonderful prospect with an incredibly exciting future ahead of him in the game. For the under-23 side he showed us such talent before displaying it in front of tens of thousands at Elland Road, Villa Park and Carrow Road. With Laurens De Bock failing to live up to expectations last season, and the long term ban of Gaetano Berardi, Paul Heckingbottom turned to the former Everton youngster, a player he had his eye on while at Barnsley FC.
The Leeds United faithful were then shown time after time his fanatical style as he would take no prisoners in his sliding challenges, a part of the under-23s game in general that seems to be lacking at the moment. Pearce didn’t receive a single booking over the five matches he played in and managed to sneak a goal against Barnsley in front of the home fans at Leeds, bursting through the middle of the pitch, coming in from the left before his driven strike trickled along the grass and ending up right in the far bottom corner following his interception on the half-way line. If you watched the Aston Villa vs Leeds game then you’ll know what he’s all about; gets in the face of attackers; doesn’t allow any way through for wide forwards looking to bring the ball into the penalty area; he puts his body on the line to stop the ball entering the penalty area and is comfortable on the ball under pressure, he could identify when it was best to clear the ball or if he could play the ball out from the attack.
This is something that new coach Marcelo Bielsa will be looking for in his wing backs. The wing backs are crucial in the Argentine’s 3-3-1-3 formation, they are the transition players, they bring the team and the ball from defence to attack. This must be done quickly with the assistance of the holding midfielder before they look to co-operate with the number ten and front three to create chances. We already know that Pearce is capable of such a task from the performances we have already seen, a brilliant variation of short passes, long passes but his crossing ability really shines through most of all. His aggression when on the ball and bringing possession up the field is also important to fulfil such a role.
However, Pearce lacks experience with the Whites reportedly looking to bring a more experienced figure into the club, with Joe Bryan also in the news to be on the move to another Championship club. The 24 year-old scored seven goals in the league and EFL Cup, including a great goal at Ashton Gate against Manchester United, opening the scoring in their 2-1 quarter-final victory. Bryan has been viewed as one of the leagues best defenders and would be a hugely popular signing if he were to arrive at Thorp Arch. Meanwhile Bryce Hosannah has also been tipped for game time during the upcoming campaign with his versatility on either side of the defence. Since arriving from Crystal Palace last summer he has impressed for the under-23 team but would not be called upon for the first team last season though could find himself getting some minutes with Bielsa looking to cut the squad down in size and give some youth experience as well as add quality from the transfer market. It’s safe to say that Tom Pearce has a seriously bright future and with Bielsa at the helm, he could be singing the praises of the legendary boss ‘El Loco’.