Leeds United centre-back Liam Cooper has commented on the emerging crop of exciting youngsters currently filling Marcelo Bielsa’s bench.
As much as it’s not the ideal situation to find ourselves in when battling relegation, the appearances of young talent in the Premier League is a tantalising prospect for the Whites.
Seven players from the under-23s have made their Premier League debuts this season, showing just how strong a setup the club has right now.
Sam Greenwood and Liam McCarron were the latest players to come on for their first Premier League appearances, as they came off the bench against Arsenal, in which Joe Gelhardt’s silky run earned a penalty for Raphinha to convert.
The club is heading towards a transition period at the moment, hoping to stay up so that new players can come in and take the side forward, whether that be under Bielsa with Liam Cooper as a starting centre-back and captain, or not.
Both he and the manager have outstanding qualities that are bound to rub off on these young players that are looking to make their way into the squad permanently, even if the Scotland international is injured currently.
Having a manager and senior setup that know of their abilities and are trusting in what they can do is massive for their confidence, and it’s something Cooper wishes he had when he was in that position.
Speaking to the Yorkshire Evening Post, he had this to say on Bielsa’s nurturing of talent:
“The manager’s been unbelievable for the young boys.
“I always say it, I wish I’d come across him earlier in my career but it wasn’t meant to be. The young lads have really got to grasp it – they’re playing under an elite manager, at an elite club with an elite mentality.
“That will only better them, us, the academy and everyone around the place.”
You can see how beneficial his management has been for every player at the club right now.
He’s been able to bring the best out of almost every player here, with Cooper being one of the biggest success stories of Bielsa’s time at Elland Road.
That should be proof to these players that they are in great hands when it comes to their development, but even when he leaves because the vision is there.
You do wonder how good some of these senior players would have been if they’d have had Bielsa at the start of their careers.