Leeds United have bolstered their academy with the signing of teenage midfielder Lewis Bate from Chelsea.
The highly rated 18-year-old has sealed a £1.5m move to Elland Road as he looks to speed up his journey to senior football, and Marcelo Bielsa was one of many managers keen to give him what he wants.
Leeds were all too glad to win the race for Bate, and here’s why.
Bate’s bread-and-butter is passing. From the first whistle to the last, he wants the ball at his feet and is focused solely on spraying passes around.
With both feet, Bate excels at both short and long passing and is often his team’s primary tempo-setter from deep in midfield, although he’s capable of doing much more if needed.
At times, he’ll be asked to sit back and pull the strings in the kind of role Jorginho excelled in at Euro 2020, and speaking of that…
It was suggested that one of England’s problems at major tournaments is their lack of deep-lying playmakers, with English midfielders struggling to find the delicate blend between aggressive defending and expert passing.
Bate, however, has impressed with his knowledge of both crafts, leading recruitment expert Connor Rowden to describe Bate as ‘un-English’ in an interview with Leeds Live.
Bate’s combination of passing and defensive awareness have even seen him compared to Kalvin Phillips by plenty of excited Leeds fans.
Bate’s do-it-all style of play has seen him affectionally dubbed ‘The Sidcup Seedorf’ because of comparisons to Dutch icon Clarence.
It’s not a perfect comparison – we’ve all seen how jacked Seedorf is to this day – but Bate shares the Dutchman’s way of effortlessly controlling games at both ends of the field without the need to steal the headlines.
If he blossoms into half the player Seedorf was, Leeds will be on to a winner.
As a young, English midfielder, it should come as no surprise to hear that Bate grew up idolising Lampard and Steven Gerrard.
“There are two people – Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard,” he told the club’s official website.
“Just because I knew they were the best players at their clubs at the time and both English midfielders. I remember watching Gerrard and seeing him as being Liverpool’s main man and the captain, while Lampard was the ultimate goalscoring midfielder. They had it all.”
One of the first things you’ll notice about Bate is his frame. He stands at just 5’6 and doesn’t exactly have the body of your stereotypical midfield general.
While he is susceptible to getting overpowered by bigger opponents, Bate gives just as good as he gets. The Englishman has been described as a terrier for his determination to recover possession at all costs and he’s not afraid to resort to the dark arts when needed.
He’s never going to be a dominant powerhouse, but Bate is more than happy to use what muscle he does have to let opponents know he’s up for a fight.
Bate joined Chelsea at the age of eight, and while he credits the club for helping him develop, he did not hesitate to jump ship upon realising that a shot in the first team at Stamford Bridge was a long way away.
The midfielder backs his ability to impress on the senior stage and moved to Leeds because he felt more opportunities would come there than at Chelsea.
A lot of Chelsea fans have accused him of having a ‘weak mentality’ because of that, but in reality, it’s the exact opposite.
Bate’s departure from Chelsea was met with real disappointment because there had been a genuine belief that he was the next youngster set to break through into the senior setup.
A regular part of training under Frank Lampard, Bate is believed to have left a lasting impression on senior stars like Cesar Azpilicueta and Olivier Giroud, both of whom bought into the hype surrounding the teenager.
Bate never actually made that breakthrough, instead leaving Chelsea with just three appearances as an unused substitute.
Bate isn’t really known for his impact in front of goal, but that’s not to say he can’t raise the roof when the moment arises. Just ask Barnsley.
Chelsea’s 8-1 win over Barnsley from November 2020 was a mini Goal of the Season competition in itself, but Bate stole the show with the eighth goal deep in injury time (around 3:12 in this highlights video).
The ball dropped to the onrushing Bate on the edge of the box, and the captain lashed home a thunderous volley which soared across the box and into the top corner. You don’t stop those.