Leeds' Thorp Arch Academy

Simon Grayson today welcomes two new youngsters to Leeds United’s Thorp Arch training complex.

American midfielder, Shaun Greenfield (18) and Italian centre-back Leonardo Poggi (19) have both been identified as potential new signings for Leeds United as Simon Grayson looks to address what he recently described as a shortage of talent in their age bracket.

Greenfield is unusual for an American player, in that he left the United States at just 14 to develop his skills at Atletico Madrid’s Academy. Generally, American players go to college before joining a professional football team and can struggle in Europe due to a much later start to their careers than their European counterparts.

As an example, Mike Grella attended Duke University in North Carolina until he joined Leeds United in 2009 at 22 years of age. Jonathan Howson meanwhile joined Leeds United in 1997 aged just 9 years old. Despite being a year younger than Grella, Howson had already made 97 appearances for the club before Mike signed his first professional contract so Greenfield’s decision to move to Spain should definitely give him an advantage.

On the evidence of this YouTube video, Greenfield appears to be a very skilful player, with plenty of flair and pace to burn. It’s difficult to determine what level of opposition he’s playing against in the clips, and I would never advocate signing players based on amateur video recordings, but you can see why Simon Grayson wants to take a closer look.

Like all players born outside the EU, getting a work permit isn’t straight forward for Shaun but he hopes to overcome this hurdle by obtaining an Italian passport. The youngster appears very confident both of his own ability and his passport application in an interview with Yanks Abroad;

“My thought on this, besides being very excited about the interest from a club with a tradition like Leeds, is that I’m very ready,”

“I have worked hard every week waiting for the opportunity and since my passport is still in process, it is not easy to get chances.”

After a call-up to the American U20 side back in May, Greenfield appears to be progressing well and with the opportunity to join Leeds United FC now within his grasp it seems he made the right decision in focusing entirely on a career in European football.

14 Responses

  1. Madrid is in Spain

    “Greenfield is unusual for an American player, in that he left the United States at just 14 to develop his skills at Atletico Madrid’s Academy”

    “to Italy should definitely give him an advantage.”

    Not sure when Madrid was in Italy?

    • TSS

      Haha, that’s one of my greatest blunders ever! Think I’ve confused myself with the Italian passport.

  2. Christopher Gee

    Good to know someone at the club is looking ahead. Incidentally it was Ramon Nunez 25th birthday yesterday. We’ve seen more of him on YouTube than on the pitch.

  3. Side Before Self

    I don’t if it’s this video because my phone won’t let me open the link but there is a YouTube video of him intermixed with a chilean player called Alexa sanchez or something and it’s hard to work out who is who. If it is the same video it’s not a fair reflection of the lads skills. On another point, even if these lads are good enough, what are we gonna do with them? Players like Elliot, Lees and darville have had a go at going on loan but White and Hatfield are treading water in the reserves. Nunez looks a more polished version of greenfield and he can’t near the first team.

  4. Carl

    What about our youth like Will Hatfield came through the academy and not even allowed to train with first team shocking by Grayson, does he not care about are youth.
    All this talk about academy having no good players it would be a waste if we had because Grayson just does not give them a chance.

  5. Benjamin Newsome

    Looks good in the video on Youtube, very good.
    Seems our scouts are doing there job properly.

    • Craig

      Seems our scouts just sit on Youtube all day! That rumour will be confirmed when we sign a juggling ape and three dozen talking dogs.

  6. Tim Campbell

    I have to say getting young fresh talent into the club is on the face of it good sound thinking – where that thinking starts to unravel is when there appears to be a closed shop mentality as regards selection for the 1st team. As my learned friend ‘side before self’ states above, I too believe that ramon nunez is much more the polished finished article and yet he could’nt even warm the bench for the Bristol City game on Saturday. If I was nunez, when his short term contract was up in January, I would think twice about signing another one (if ever he gets one offered). Other youngsters must be thinking the same thing, is there any light at the end of the tunnel, no matter how hard they try in training or reserve games.

  7. Gryff

    It’s always good to have handy youngsters waiting in the wings, and Greenfield does look talented. Judging by his youtube videos he was great in low-level football, but I can imagine him losing it every single time he has the ball in the Championship.
    He certainly has flair, and if he were trained up well he could be quite good.

    Mystified about the lack of anything on Poggi on the internet. Just about every decent Italian youth player is on Italian websites, but there’s no trace of the lad…

  8. Carl

    Grayson has no interest in youth development it’s all about paying lip service saying the right things (Grayson quote fans love to see players who have come through the academy Aidy White was the last one I want others to do the same because there is no greater satisfaction than having home grown talent.
    So let’s not develop are youth and bring in some foreign kid that looks good on YouTube.
    bloody great.

  9. EYLeeds

    Really not impressed with what I see on the clips. Two things struck me, firstly none of the defenders knew how to tackle and secondly he doesn’t get his head up to look for his team mates runs. He won’t be able to nutmeg Championship players like that.
    Anyway, can’t really judge a player properly from something like that so fingers crossed he is the next Messi!

  10. kai

    the guy in the youtube vid is alexis sanchez not the american youngster -.- what a mistake

  11. TheReaper08

    I hope it works out but seriously reviewing players on youtube, youmugs more like….


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