Opinion: Leeds United player heading for career crossroads as Marcelo Bielsa opportunities dry up

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For the vast majority of those associated with Leeds United, there is very little way in which this season could have gone better than it has.

Following their return to the Premier League after 16 long years away at the start of the campaign, the Elland Road club have taken to life back in the top-flight of English football with a remarkable amount of ease, comfortably securing their place in the division for next season, while last week’s win at Manchester City marked their biggest scalp yet.

As a result, those that have played a regular role in this season both on and off the pitch – of whom there are plenty – can certainly feel happy with the work they have done over the course of the campaign.

However, there are certain individuals who may be rather more frustrated with the way things have played out over the past few months, one of which, is Ian Poveda.

A Struggle to Breakthrough

Having joined Leeds from Manchester City back in the 2020 January transfer window, Poveda is a player who has shown plenty of potential to make an impact for the club.

In what have been, admittedly rather fleeting, appearances for Marcelo Bielsa’s side, Poveda’s ability and creative spark have certainly offered room for encouragement about what the 21-year-old can do, when he is really handed an opportunity to impress at Elland Road.

Right now however, it feels as though the chance for Poveda to do that, is moving further away, rather than as any young player in his position would have hoped, getting closer.

Since picking up a knock while featuring for the club’s Under 23’s side at the end of January, Poveda has had to work his way back to full fitness, but despite doing that, the young attacker has been unable to really force his way back on to the pitch at first-team level.

Since Leeds’ 2-0 defeat at West Ham on the eighth of March, Poveda has been named amongst the substitutes in all five of Leeds’ Premier League, but is yet to actually come off the bench and on to the pitch in those games.

That is not something that Poveda is going to want as he looks to develop and improve at this level, something that any player knows can best be done with game time, and when you consider the fact that even before his injury, all ten of the attacker’s Premier League appearances for Leeds this season have come from the bench, you feel that the 21-year-old will not have been on the pitch anywhere near as much as he would have wanted this season, leaving him with plenty to think about.

What’s Next?

Admittedly, with the form that Leeds as a whole have been in, it was always going to be hard for Poveda or any other player who is not a regular starter to break into the side, particularly with Bielsa’s own notorious reluctance to rotate his starting lineup.

That however, does leave Poveda with a decision to make, given the odd few minutes from the bench late on in games – something which even in itself is becoming more of a rarity – is not going to be what he or any player will want in terms of game time, as he looks to make a name for himself at Elland Road.

As a result, it could be argued that a loan move elsewhere could be a sensible move for Poveda, a player who you feel there are plenty of Championship clubs would jump at the chance to bring in on a temporary basis, given the lift he could provide them in their own push for a potential place in the Premier League next season.

That in itself would give Poveda the game time he has been missing out on at Leeds recently, and in the process, handing him the opportunity to prove he is worthy of a place in the starting XI on a more regular basis when he returns to the Whites.

Indeed, with just over three years remaining on Poveda’s contract with Leeds, there is still plenty of time for the attacker to make that break into the Whites’ starting lineup, even if he does spend a stint out on loan elsewhere during the coming campaign.

With that in mind, with chances failing to really present themselves to Poveda at Elland Road right now, it does seem as though a move away from the club in short term to show exactly what he can do elsewhere, could be just what the attacker needs to boost his chances with Leeds, in the long term.

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UCLan Sports Journalism graduate. Have been working for Leeds All Over since summer 2020, and can only be found writing on Football League World.