Why Haydon Roberts would be a good long-term signing for Leeds United
According to claims from Football Insider (h/t Sussex Live), Premier League newcomers Leeds United have launched a six-figure bid to try and sign highly-rated defender Haydon Roberts from Brighton and Hove Albion.
The 18-year-old, who is out of contract at the Amex Stadium next summer, has also attracted interest from Championship clubs Derby County and Brentford (Football Insider h/t Sussex Live). The Telegraph reports that German clubs RB Leipzig and Mainz are also in the race to sign the teenage prospect.
Brighton are willing to tie him down to a new contract but convincing him to stay might not be all that easy, with Graham Potter already well-stocked in his central defensive options. (The Athletic h/t Sussex Live)
Haydon Roberts rose through the youth ranks of Brighton and Hove Albion, making his debut in the U-18 Premier League during the 2017-18 season before making the transition to the U-23s at the Premier League 2 level in the following campaign.
The 18-year-old has featured 32 times for the Seagulls’ U-18 side so far while also registering 28 appearances for the U-23s. Roberts was handed his first-team debut in an EFL Cup tie against Aston Villa last year, with the teenager scoring his team’s only goal in a 3-1 defeat.
Roberts came on as a substitute in Brighton’s 4-0 victory over Portsmouth in the EFL Cup last week, making his second senior appearance for the club. The talented centre-back, who can also play at right-back, has represented England at U-17 and U-18 levels and was a part of his nation’s squad at the 2019 UEFA U-17 European Championship.
Roberts seems like a real talent
While Leeds United have made only two major additions to their first-team in Rodrigo Moreno and Robin Koch so far this summer, the Whites have been really active in their youth recruitment drive.
The likes of Joe Gelhardt, Coady Drameh and Crysencio Summerville have been roped in from Wigan Athletic, Fulham, and Feyenoord respectively with one eye on the future as Leeds bid to build a strong platform moving forward.
The West Yorkshire giants have made it a top priority to scour the continent for exciting young prospects under the stewardship of Marcelo Bielsa and director of football Victor Orta.
Highly-rated starlets like Mateusz Bogusz, Pascal Struijk, Leif Davis, Liam McCarron and Jordan Stevens have come through the door at Elland Road among others, with several of them making an impression in the first-team.
To that end, Haydon Roberts would be yet another exciting addition to the pool of burgeoning young talents at Elland Road. The Whites are in need of a new centre-back to compete with the likes of Liam Cooper and Robin Koch in first-team but it remains to be seen whether the 18-year-old is viewed as a senior option by Bielsa.
Roberts might not be capable of making a big impact in the Premier League just yet, considering his lack of experience at this level. However, his talent and potential certainly can’t be ignored, as evident from a top club like Leipzig expressing an interest in his services.
Hence, the best thing for Leeds would be to complete a deal for him and then gradually ease him into the first-team picture over the next few years. Conversely, arranging a loan move for him, preferably in the Championship, would also be a smart idea.
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The Whites have some promising young defenders like Leif Davis and Struijk, meaning that Haydon Roberts will face stiff competition for his place in Biela’s pecking order. He seems more than capable of thriving, though, given his exploits at U-18 and U-23 levels for Brighton.
All in all, Leeds would be better off looking at the 18-year-old as a good investment for the future rather than an immediate game-changer.