With the Gerrards and the Lampards a part of English history now (or at least in a few months), the attention moves to the current generation of midfielders who are expected to carry England forward in the up coming international tournaments. While the entire football industry watches the media scrutinize them, we shift our focus to the future generation of midfielders that England is likely to produce. One such talent is 18 year old Leeds United youngster, Lewis Cook.
Who is Lewis Cook?
Born in the historic Northern town of York, Lewis Cook joined the Leeds United academy as a youngster, progressing through the ranks, and emerging as a rapidly developing prospect at a young age. He made his senior debut at the tender age of seventeen, coming off the bench in the 64th minute versus Millwall on the opening day of the 2014-15 Championship season, and has appeared over 30 times during the course of this campaign; an incredibly impressive tally for one so young.
He has excelled so far in his time at Leeds, leading to comparisons with Fabian Delph, the former Leeds United midfielder who departed for Aston Villa and has since gone on to represent England at senior level on three occasions.
Talent Radar Accolades
Cook is also experienced on the international stage, having also played for England’s youth sides, representing the under-16, under-17 and under-18 teams. It is with the under-17 team that he enjoyed the most success, attaining an impressive 17 caps, and winning the UEFA European Under-17 Championship in May, 2014. Cook was an instrumental figure in the tournament, starting three of England’s five matches, including the final versus the Netherlands.
Sky Sports’ Paul Merson and Leeds legend Eddie Gray are amongst those to praise his talent and promise, with Merson commenting: “He looked very young to me, he looked about 18, 19, very comfortable on the ball, tries to make things happen, very impressed with him, very impressed.”
Gray also lauded the youngster’s recent form. “He is a terrific player.” He enthused recently. “He plays with a maturity, he’s got good ability, good pace and he works hard in games.”
Style of Play, Strengths and Weaknesses
Comparisons with Fabian Delph are fairly accurate, although they may be more to do with his height than anything else. Indeed, Lewis Cook may only be five foot nine, but his grace and composure on the ball emit signs of a footballer who possesses great authority on the field of play. His passing has a success rate of 77%, and he averages 1.07 key passes per match, indicating that he is capable of launching attacks consistently, despite being a more defensively-oriented midfielder. His defensive prowess however, is clear; he averages 1.93 interceptions every game, which goes to show why he is sometimes seen playing at centre-back.
Cook’s main asset is his ability as a central midfielder, be it box-to-box, or a more deep-lying role. His confidence and stance while on the ball is very eloquent, while despite not possessing scintillating pace, he is still to be seen dribbling up-field, and taking on defenders.
In spite of the fact that scoring is not a midfielder’s priority, Cook’s lack of goals is his biggest weakness. He has made over thirty appearances for Leeds United so far this season, and still finds himself without a single goal to his name. He has made 13 efforts on goal so far, but has a poor shot accuracy of just 38%.
Also, despite creating 34 chances, Cook has only contributed one assist this season, which again is something that needs to be improved.
However, Lewis Cook’s main weakness lies in dispossessing opponents. He only wins 37.85% of duels, and emerges on top in just 38.30% of contested headers, conveying that while he is a useful defensive player, he has a lot to work on if he aims to play in the Premier League.
It’s inevitable that Lewis Cook will eventually part company with Leeds, for his ability greatly exceeds the playing level of the Championship. Whether or not he ends up treading a similar path to Fabian Delph, who departed for Aston Villa in 2009 and has since made three appearances for England – is another matter, but it’s certain that Cook has the potential to represent England at senior level. However, it is likely that Cook, just like Delph, will struggle to adapt to the Premier League, and will presumably be sent back on loan to the Championship if he is signed by a top-division club, many of whom are said to be interested in the youngster.
Naturally, as is the case with every talented teenager, Cook’s consistent performances have attracted attention from a number of Premier League clubs.
Cook and fellow midfielder Alex Mowatt are dubbed as being some of the most promising young footballers to emerge from the Leeds United Academy, and it’s no surprise to learn that Mowatt is also being touted by a number of top Premier League teams. However, it is Cook that is attracting the most attention.
Lewis Cook is rare in that he is a talented English footballer. Although there are dozens upon dozens of good, young English players on the scene at the moment, Cook is a player sought by a high number of Premier League clubs, and it’s almost definite that he’ll leave for greater things come the summer.
Written by Tomos Knox
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