Leeds United beat West Ham to the signing of young midfielder Lewis Bate by offering the star something the Hammers couldn’t, claims pundit Noel Whelan.
United sealed the £1.2m signing of the teenage midfielder from Chelsea last week, who has left Stamford Bridge to further his prospects. Bate, who had a year left on his deal, headed north to join Marcelo Bielsa’s side, rather than make the easier move to West Ham.
He has signed on a long-term deal with Chelsea securing a sizeable sell-on fee and bonuses should Bate impress at Elland Road.
Bate will initially join up with Mark Jackson’s Under-23s squad at Elland Road. However, operating with a small squad, many Leeds youngsters have often found their way into Premier League matchday squads.
Furthermore, with a shortage of midfield options at Leeds, Bate clearly felt there was a greater opportunity to impress in Yorkshire.
Speaking about the transfer, Whelan reckons Bate has been given a route towards Premier League football with Leeds.
“It’s vitally important there’s a pathway seen by these young players,” Whelan told Football Insider.
“It’s probably a pathway that’s more viable than you’d probably get at Chelsea, Arsenal, Manchester City.
“I think the fact when you go back years and years, even when I was playing, that pathway is an open door. If you’re good enough, you get given an opportunity.
“Look at everything that Leeds United has to offer right now.
“The training facilities, the way they’re looked after, the way they’re mentored by Mark Jackson and Marcelo Bielsa and all the other staff that are there at Leeds United and Thorp Arch.
“They can see the potential that’s going to be there for them and can progress with the club.”
Bate failed to make his first-team debut for Chelsea, but will hope that opportunity arises after heading north.
Journalist talks up Bate qualities
Bate, meanwhile, has the attributes needed to make the first-team breakthrough at Elland Road, claims Goal’s Chelsea reporter Nizaar Kinsella.
“He’s probably most naturally a six but he can play as an eight,” Kinsella told the Yorkshire Evening Post.
“He’s got a really good final ball which is one of his big traits. He has a brilliant left foot, likes a crossfield pass and is a good dribbler.
“He is quite similar to Mateo Kovacic at Chelsea who dribbles through central midfield to break the press – which probably means he could be an eight as well.
“I think that would suit him. He does get stuck in and he’s defensively strong. I don’t think the physicality is quite there yet but technically he is great. He takes set-pieces as well.
“He puts himself about and does have that nastiness to his game. I think that is a big part of his game, really.”