One To Watch - Leeds United's Alex Mowatt

Manchester City and Everton target Mowatt embracing first team football at Leeds.

In my second addition to ‘one to watch’ I focus on the supremely talented Alex Mowatt, who has just orchestrated a professional display in his sides 4-0 win over divisional rivals Birmingham City.

Alex Mowatt is a stalwart in Leeds academy system with reports ranging from 200 to 250 games already played for Leeds United at various ages. Last season saw Alex Mowatt named captain of the under-18 side to enhance ‘maturity’ and ‘authority’ and it seems to have worked splendidly.

Leeds under-18’s won their league at a canter with him at the heart of their success and he in turn earned himself a regular spot in Neil Redfearn’s under-21 squad.

He started training with the first team in this year’s pre-season for an assessment of his abilities and attitude around experienced and proven Championship players. He earned the nickname ‘wonder-boy’ fairly quickly amongst the experienced pro's and made a big impression on the management. He was named on the bench during Leeds United’s 2-1 against Chesterfield in the League Cup and made his first team debut when he started against Doncaster, the place he was born.

He made his second start in the match against Newcastle United in the League Cup, where he put in another impressive performance despite a 2-0 loss. He has then gone on to start every game since then, with his league debut coming against Millwall on the 28th September. After an impressive first month in professional football he will have a good shout to win October’s young player of the month competition, or at least be nominated for.

The 18-year-old is a very accomplished and well-rounded centre midfield player that has very little weakness in any department. A well-built young man who isn’t afraid to put his body on the line when asked, can hold his ground in a physical battle and won’t shy away from challenges is hard to find at such a young age. Yet, he can also play in an advanced position and show off his range of passing.

He has the ability to produce neat intricate 5 yard style balls which involve quick thinking and an incredible awareness and 20 yard balls which require accuracy and vision, he doesn’t find any problem manipulating his playing style to fit in any asked system.

He is also renowned in the Leeds United youth ranks for his set-piece specialism which he has yet to broadcast to the world on a first team stage but will no doubt sooner or later get the chance to make his mark in this sense.

Mowatt will grow a lot into his position at Leeds United and will undoubtedly try more ‘cutting’ stuff with the more experience he gets. At 18, with just 6 months first team training and he is already keeping proven Championship players out the team so you can forgive him for being a little reserved until he gets his foot-hold in the team more permanently.

No-one can argue that Leeds United have one of the most special youngsters in the league in Mowatt. He has been compared to a lot of huge stars recently; the biggest compliment to his ability is the comparison with Arsenal, Juventus and Internazionale legend Liam Brady.

He is another player that is being watched by some of the biggest clubs in the country, with Manchester City and Everton scouts reportedly keen it won’t be long before the money involved with any possible transfer becomes ‘eye-watering’.

My next edition of ‘one to watch’ will be on Nottingham Forest number 1 Karl Darlow. A talented keeper who made the most of former ‘fan-favourite’ Lee Camp’s choice to chase after Premier League football.

image: © Chris Robertshaw

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