In our weekly Scout feature, Daniel Roberts takes a detailed look at a new emerging talent from world football. Today we profile Leeds United’s in-demand full-back Charlie Taylor.
Born in York, Taylor signed for Leeds United as a scholar in 2010 and soon established himself as a regular for the Under-18 side.
He quickly stepped up to play reserves side and was rewarded with a first-team debut aged 17 in 2011, coming on as a substitute in a Carling Cup tie against local rivals Bradford City. The left-back quickly followed that up with his league debut against Crystal Palace, starting the game and grabbing an assist in the Whites’ 3-2 victory.
Three months later, Taylor joined Bradford City on a month’s loan, and followed that up with a two-month stay at his hometown club York City at the start of the 2012-13 season, making a combined seven appearances for the two clubs He ended the campaign in Scotland, joining Premier League side Inveness and impressing in his seven games.
The next season saw Taylor really shine, becoming an integral part of the Fleetwood Town side that earned promotion to League One via the play-offs having finished fourth. His 32 appearances would be enough to earn him a new three-year contract at Leeds, and he returned to Elland Road with first-team aspirations.
Although he started the campaign as understudy to first choice Stephen Warnock, injuries saw Taylor find his way into the starting 11, before making the spot his own with a string of strong performances. He ended his breakthrough campaign playing in 23 games, starting all but one. Averaging over six defensive actions per game, Taylor showed himself as a reliable defender and was nominated for the club’s Young Player of the Season award.
This season, he improved further, earning a number of plaudits from the media, fans and coaches. His defensive contribution continued to improve, making seven actions per game, including 152 clearances and 111 interceptions. At the end of the season, he was rewarded for his fine form, picking up the Fans’ Player of the Year and Yorkshire Post Player of the Year awards.
Capable of playing further up the pitch in the left-midfield role, Taylor is also efficient going forward and ended this campaign with four assists to his name. And while his passing completion rate of 74% and his shot accuracy of 36% will need to improve, at just 22, the defender has certainly cemented himself as one of the most exciting talents in English football today.
Take a look at Taylor scoring a fantastic individual effort against MK Dons back in September.
What the experts say?
Former Leeds manager Uwe Rosler: “He’s a machine”
Leeds head coach Steve Evans: “He is a top player and a top lad and he’s getting better. He’s an outstanding talent that this football club is blessed to have and we are blessed to work with him.”
Former Leeds coach Greg Abbott: “Charlie, for me, can go straight into a Premier League side and play, hit the ground running. It wouldn’t be a problem.”
Where does the future lie?
After a highly successful season at Elland Road, speculation is mounting over Taylor’s future at the club and rightly so.
Following on from his debut campaign the year before, the youngster has continued to impress and is fully expected to make the step up to the top tier of English football – and with just 12 months left on his contract, Premier League clubs are on high alert.
In the past few days, Arsenal, Liverpool and Sunderland have been credited with an interest in the left-back, but while the Premier League is a target for Taylor, he insists he still wants to reach the big time with the Whites.
“The dream is still to play in the Premier League with Leeds,” Taylor said when discussing his future. “I’m not just saying that, it’s how we look at it.”
“Unless anything drastic happens, I’m sure I’ll be here. I’m not thinking any other way.”
Whether Taylor decides to stay at Leeds for one more campaign or not, his time at the club is numbered unless promotion can be achieved next season. If the Yorkshire outfit fail, and with his contract coming to end, we will be sure to see him the Premier League in the not-so-distant future.
Danny Roberts – @