Leeds United are well known for producing talented players but when was the last time they produced a talent centre back? This season we’ve seen Olly Casey make his Leeds debut and performed well. Another young centre back at the club who is yet to make his first debut but has plenty of promise is 17 year old, Charlie Cresswell. Charlie is the son of ex Leeds United and Sheffield United striker Richard, who played for a number of clubs throughout his career. His son Charlie has been at Leeds since a young age and has progressed up through the ranks impressively, but what sort of player is he?
Charlie fits the mould of a modern day centre back who is good on the ball and looks to play out from the back, something that fits the first teams style and the style of the club as a whole. In order to do this you need to be composed on the ball and have a good passing range, two things that Cresswell is very good at. Below is an example of Charlie bringing the ball out of defence, deep into the opposition half. He’s under pressure but is composed enough to pass the ball into space.
We all watch Liam Cooper and Ben White in the first team on ball in their own half, look up and hit a cross field ball and allow Leeds to be in constant 2v1 situations. Below is one of many example that I could have shown from Charlie’s most recent under 23’s game doing exactly this.
Being good on the ball and having a good passing range is all well and good but can he defend? Yes. Being the son of Richard, who was a striker, I’m sure they’ve spent hours upon hours talking and playing football together. His reading of the game for me is one of the most impressive attributes and the ability to sniff out danger. Take the following example against Sheffield Wednesday U23’s recently, Leeds lost possession in their own defensive third and Charlie found himself playing as a left sided centre half despite playing on the right all game.
Mistiming in this situation would have lead to a free shot on goal and in the position it was in, would have been a good chance for Wednesday to score. However, Charlie timed the interception perfectly and set Leeds on the counter attack.
Despite only being 17, those close to him highlight that he’s got a brilliant attitude and is completely focused on improving and becoming a better player. Being 17 means that he plays for both the under 23’s and under 28’s, where he captains the side when he plays. His leadership qualities in these games are particularly encouraging to see for such a young player. In both of the most recent FA Youth Cup games, he captained the side and lead by example. Against Hull City under 18’s he scored two goals, one from the spot and one a commanding headers at the back post, which leads me onto his aerial ability. Defending and attacking set pieces is something that the first team players are struggling with at the moment, however, Charlie doesn’t have that problem. He attacks the ball really well and is a constant threat from set pieces in which he scores a good amount of goals for a centre back, I’m sure his dad will be proud of this.
A very well rounded defender who is good on the ball, strong in the tackle and has the ability to pass under pressure, there isn’t much to his game that you can criticise. He is however still inexperienced and with this comes inconsistent performances. Despite being level headed, he can sometimes be overeager to impress with the ball and without. Mistimed tackles, losing balls in important areas and losing the ball high up to name a few but this is something you come to expect from a young player. These aren’t areas for concern though, with more experience and guidance he’ll learn when to pass, when to come out with the ball and when to get tight to the opposition. Depending on what league Leeds are playing in next season, don’t be shocked if Cresswell becomes a part of the first team squad in the near future if he carries on putting in impressive performances for the under 23’s. His short term goal will be to become a permanent member of the under 23’s squad and train with the first team, with the view of catching the eye of Marcelo Bielsa. With Berardi potentially leaving at the end of the season with contract up and Ben White likely to move onto better things, Cresswell will be hoping to show he has the ability and attitude to be considered a viable options in the near future.
Written by Thomas Wilson
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