Miles Leaburn is an English forward currently contracted to League One side Charlton Athletic and his performances in the third tier have captured the interest of Premier League side West Ham United.
TEAMtalk’s Dean Jones reported on Wednesday that West Ham have registered an interest in the former Chelsea youth player following a bright start to life in the professional game.
Turning 20 just over a week ago, Leaburn has been a regular for the Addicks in the third tier ever since making his professional debut in July 2022.
West Ham are particularly light in the forward positions, with Danny Ings and Michail Antonio the only two recognised strikers in the Hammers squad, with the latter having picked up an injury until late December.
What’s more, 19-year-old academy product Divin Mubama and wide man Jarrod Bowen have both been given time in the centre-forward role this campaign following the sale of the underwhelming Gianluca Scamacca after one season.
Leaburn’s career so far
Born in the town of Bromley in Greater London, Leaburn came through the Chelsea academy before making the switch to Charlton in 2019 and signed his first professional contract in July 2022.
At 18 years old, he made his professional debut for the club coming off the bench in a 2-2 draw away at Accrington Stanley, where he scored in the 94th minute in what would’ve been a late winner for the Addicks before Accrington pulled one back two minutes later to level the game once again.
Since then, Leaburn has been close to making a half-century of appearances for Charlton, scoring on 15 occasions in the league, but he suffered a hamstring injury following his side’s 2-1 home win over Cheltenham in late November and has undergone surgery – he will be facing up to five months out.
Leaburn’s father, Carl, also played for Charlton from 1987-1998 and registered over 300 appearances for the Addicks, scoring on 53 occasions.
What is Leaburn like as a player?
At 1.95m (6ft 4in), Leaburn, like his father, is a towering presence up front. But despite his height, he is much more than just your conventional target man.
He is more than adept at getting in behind a defence with his clever runs and athletic ability enabling him to beat opposition for pace as well as shrugging them off with his large frame.
Leaburn has demonstrated that he can score in numerous ways, which is a major positive for a player so young, with bags of time to improve. He can use his head, with his height helping him win aerial duals often; he can squeeze out of tight spaces with quality close control before either placing the ball in the corner of the net or rifling past the keeper with power.
The Englishman doesn’t often drop deep and instead prefers to stay close to the last line of defence where he can either get in behind or have the ball played to feet before releasing a pass to a teammate or taking on the opposition for himself.
He is very one-footed, with the bulk of his goals coming with his right foot – or his head – and when he finds himself in a position to shoot with his left he prefers to cut in onto his right, a weakness which could be exploited if defenders realise this.
Where will Leaburn go?
Still only 20 and with less than 50 senior appearances to his name, Leaburn still has ample time to develop and could probably do with another year in League One or the Championship before leaping the Premier League.
It is likely that he will only be afforded a handful of appearances once he returns from his injury in order to get him back to speed with his return expected at the latter end of the campaign.
West Ham are the club most heavily linked with the 6ft 4in forward, though Leaburn is unlikely to readily challenge either Antonio or Ings for a starting berth in the Hammers side and with the emergence of Mubama from the academy he would struggle to be guaranteed minutes.
Leaburn’s technical ability for a player of his physique is an anomaly in modern football, which is what makes him such an intriguing prospect.
If a move to the Hammers comes to fruition then it would be likely that one or two of Antonio, Ings and Mubama leave on loan or permanently, or Leaburn may be loaned straight back out, probably to a Championship side.