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.