In our weekly Scout feature, Daniel Roberts takes a detailed look at a new emerging talent from the European and British talent pool. Leeds United youngster Lewis Cook is the latest player in the spotlight.
Regarded as one of England’s most prized young talents, the midfield star is in high demand as Premier League giants prepare to battle it out for his signature. Labelled the next Paul Scholes, the 18-year-old had a fine season at Elland Road last year, making 37 appearances and earning the accolade of Championship Apprentice of the Year in the Football League awards.
After impressing in the 2014-15 pre-season, Cook made his debut as a substitute in Leeds’ season opener against Millwall. He soon established himself as a mainstay in the heart of midfield, ending the season with a reasonable 75% passing accuracy, creating 36 chances for his team-mates in his 2,955 minutes of football – averaging a chance every 80 minutes. Although his season finished with an injury that saw him miss the final seven games of the season, it ended on a high as he was named the Whites’ Young Player of the Season.
This season, Cook has continued his progression, with an improvement in his game evident. In just 1243 minutes, the midfielder has created 16 chances, a chance every 70 minutes, and has a 78% passing accuracy, both an increase on last seasons percentages.
Internationally, Cook has represented England from the U16s up to the U19s and is expected to make the step up to both the U21 and senior sides in the future. His finest moment in an England shirt came when he was apart of the U17 squad that won the 2014 UEFA European Under-17 Championship, starting in both the semi-final and final.
D.O.B: 03/02/1997 (18)
Height: 5ft 9in
Club: Leeds United
What the experts say
Leeds United Chairman, Massimo Cellino: “I knew we had a wonderful talent when I first saw him in the summer. At first, I thought he was much older than he was. He plays like he has lots of experience”.
Former Leeds manager, Neil Redfearn: “Lewis Cook, 17 years old… he was the best player on the pitch by a mile. He has a massive influence on us and how we play. Even at the tender age of 17, there’s a maturity about him. He’s got this strength in character and he’s getting better and better”.
Former Leeds midfielder and current club ambassador, Peter Lorimer: “Cook, for me, is the most talented kid we’ve seen from the academy in a while … This kid could be very special if he carries on the way he’s going”.
Where does the future lie?
Although Cook extended his contract in the summer, interest is once again high in the central midfielder as we approach the winter transfer window.
Stoke City and Bournemouth are the latest clubs linked in bringing the Englishman to the Premier League, but they face stiff competition from Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool and the Manchester giants.
The Yorkshire club will be bracing themselves for an influx of offers from interested parties in January, however, their hope will be that Cook sticks around Elland Road for the considerable future.
If he is to stay at the Whites for the remainder of the season, one of his aims will be imposing himself as more of an attacking threat during games. Although his passing and chance creation stats have increased this season, the next step in his progression is to add goals to his game.
If he can compliment his game with goals, the 18-year-old is certainly bound to become a star Premier League midfielder for years to come.
By Daniel Roberts, @djroberts22