Having become a club renowned for giving chances to young players, Leeds United are seen as a destination for younger talent now. The arrival of Marcelo Bielsa, rated as among the best player developers in the game, has helped Leeds to transform the fates of more than a few players. Today, regular starters in the team have been developed across the three full seasons that Bielsa has enjoyed. This has left the club with a strong cast of players who know the system exactly, leaving ample space for some young talent to fill out the squad.
One youngster that looks almost certain now to be part of the future and present at Leeds is Leo Hjelde. The Norwegian was left out of the Glasgow Celtic Europa League squad, and has been more or less dropped from the first-team picture. The Norwegian had captained the Celtic B team and was regularly involved in pre-season, but has faded as reports of a move to Leeds has become almost certain.
The signing is one that is going to be one for the future, with the player only regularly playing senior football for the first time last year. He was loaned out to Dingwall-based side Ross County, and played a role in helping his team stay up in the Scottish top-flight. However, the departure of compatriot Kris Ajer and the lack of first-team chances has seen Hjelde move on from the Scottish giants.
As Celtic go through a rebuild of their own as they look to hunt down Rangers after a catastrophic attempt at winning ten titles in a row, Hjelde is seen as a player whom they can earn a decent fee on. The player is expected to undergo a medical in the near future.
Will Leo Hjelde play for Leeds this year?
Don’t expect to see the Norwegian much, or at all, in his first season in Leeds. He will play with the U23 side and will sometimes train with the first team, but is seen as a player for the future as much as one for today. However, fans can likely point to more than a few times in the Bielsa era where a young prospect has soon earned a place in the first-team. This is not likely to be any different.
Hjelde is rated as extremely mature and developed tactically for his age. He needs to improve physically, but the fact he offers a tactically astute and technically solid left-sided central defender means he could see some game time sooner than most expect. If he impresses for the U23s, we might see Leeds offer a runout to the youngster in the early rounds of the League Cup and FA Cup.
Seen as one for the future as well as a player who could make a few contributions today, Hjelde is one that should excite Leeds fans. Given the pedigree of central defender that has come from Parkhead in recent years, this could be a major coup for the Whites in years to come.