Leeds United have announced the signing of Chelsea starlet Lewis Bate on a three-year deal to add to the already impressive under-23 squad.
The Whites have pressed on the gas when it’s come to under-23s recruitment after achieving category one status under Marcelo Bielsa.
Promotion to the PL2 Division One has ramped it up even more with three astute additions in Amari Miller, Sean McGurk, and the latest coming from Stamford Bridge.
He will link up with the under-23s initially but has signed with a view that he is joining a group of players at Elland Road who will be knocking on the door of the first team right away.
A promising signing, here we take a look at three qualities that Bate will bring to Elland Road…
Expertise in long passing
Bate has predominantly played in a deep role much akin to Kalvin Phillips, albeit not as a sole pivot, and his role is to keep possession ticking over from the base of midfield.
We’ve seen Phillips’ range of passing come along so much under Bielsa and it’s not something that not many players in the country can demonstrate on his level.
However, Bate has shown that before he’s even got to work under the Argentine, switching play tremendously well for the Blues to open up gaps out wide.
This sort of passing works best when it’s executed as quickly as possible to stop the defending side from shifting across, which he’s done well too.
Focus On Leeds pointed out that his technique of switching the play is what catches the eye though, striking the ball with pace and dip in order for it to find its target without being intercepted.
There’s more to playing in midfield than just keeping possession ticking over by finding other midfielders, and Bate obviously excels here too.
If he’s to progress the ball and show that he’s more than just sideways and backwards, he needs to be able to pick passes that find attackers in space behind the opposition midfield and defensive setup.
His confidence to take the ball under pressure allows for spaces to open up beyond the press, where a pacey reverse pass can do the trick to help the side transition into attack from probing.
It’s a talent that we’ve needed from our defenders a lot under Bielsa and having that from midfield is a massive asset, which the likes of Adam Forshaw and Mateusz Klich have been able to showcase too.
An ‘out ball’ for the defence
Similar to the last point, dictating possession starts before he’s even received the ball.
Being a pivot means you have to constantly be in a position to receive the ball from your teammates, whether it be passes coming backwards or forwards from the backline.
A ball-playing defensive midfielder has to be able to allow the defence to have an outlet to build from the back and Bate’s constant screening to move into positions to get the ball on the half-turn makes him a hugely important player to Chelsea’s, and now our system.
His confidence to show for the ball is something that not many midfielders have in abundance and it stands him in good stead going forward when he hones his skills under Bielsa.