Leeds’ new midfielder ammunition
Leeds United’s astute acquisition of the immensely talented Lewis Baker is a brilliant way to kick off their summer transfer business under Marcelo Bielsa’s stewardship.
Technically gifted, physical and a great athlete to boot, the man who’s joined on loan from Chelsea should fit in perfectly with Bielsa’s attackingly geared, high octane philosophy. Baker can’t wait to hit the ground running too, as he’s ecstatic about the prospect of working with the iconic, revered Bielsa and making a major impact at Elland Road, especially after enduring an unsatisfactory stint at Middlesbrough last term. “I’m ready for this season, I’m really excited and it’s a massive club, the fanbase is fantastic, I’m really excited,” he explained to Leeds’ official website.
“If you’ve watched my games before you’ll know what kind of player I am but from coming off the back of last season, I’ve definitely got a point to prove. If you know your football you know he’s a massive manager, he’s managed some of the best players in the world, he’s got good aspirations for this season – I spoke to the director of football for a long time – so it seemed like a good move for me.”
A player that combines power and finesse beautifully, the 23-year-old will be a fine asset for the Argentine coach to have at his disposal. Moreover, his versatility, that allows him to feature in many different midfield roles, something he’s illustrated in his 145 professional matches, will give his manager plenty of tactical flexibility as to how best to utilise him.
Exceptional with the ball at his feet, the former Vitesse loanee will add a vast amount of creativity, incision, and unpredictability to the Whites going forward. To start with his dribbling prowess, and Baker’s close control, Velcro-like first touch, tidy array of tricks, feints, and shimmies, in combination with his rapid changes of pace and direction, ensure he’s a challenging proposition for any defence to handle.
Being so strong and possessing a low centre of gravity only enhances his menace, for the stocky playmaker is extremely difficult to push off the ball, meaning he can ride tackles admirably and weave out of trouble while vitally remaining balanced.
In terms of his passing, Baker excels here too, where his lovely range of distribution sees him able to crucially bypass opposition lines of pressure, combine intricately in close quarters, unleash raking cross-field diagonals to change the angle of the attack and unlock backlines with a crafty repertoire of through balls. The fact he’s so comfortable in possession and copes with pressure so calmly is of particular importance, as he relishes opponents leaving their post to harry him, for it opens up passing lanes or a free man upfield to take advantage of.
Whether orchestrating, facilitating or animating, Baker’s vision and aptitude in this regard would’ve been one of the most endearing factors why Bielsa wanted him in his squad. In addition, his wicked shooting and set piece taking ability only heighten his value, allowing him to launch powerful, placed, lofted shots and deliveries depending on the scenario he’s confronted with.
Meanwhile, his intelligent movement ties the aforementioned together mightily. Using his spatial recognition skills, Baker takes up sound positions to either generate numerical superiorities when building out from the back or in situations where his team are channeling their attacks through the half spaces or out wide. Moreover, the way he cunningly embarks on penetrative, well-timed runs in behind and smartly exploits unoccupied areas in the 10 spaces offer further offensive upside.
Expect him to also contribute solidly on the defensive end, where he’ll be a proficient exponent of Bielsa’s famed aggressive pressing demands. Other positives attached to his stopping work come from his knowledge of where best to position himself to block passing routes, his application when tracking runners and through his power in executing his interventions.
All things considered, securing the services of the multifaceted and motivated Baker, who’s chomping at the bit to demonstrate his worth and thrive under the expert tutelage of Bielsa, there’s every reason to suggest Baker will be a sterling singing for Leeds’ fascinating new era.
Preview by: licencetoroam.
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