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Leeds United: Wonderkid should play final games in midfield role

Daniel Farke has proven to be a smart appointment at Leeds United, and allowing young Archie Gray to impress is great. Now he needs to start playing him in his natural position. 

At just 18 years old, Gray has become a vital part of Leeds’ promotion push, winning the Young Player of the Year award, thanks in large part to his manager’s faith.

Frustratingly though, he’s spent most of his time at right-back instead of in the centre of the park, where he has played throughout most of his young career.

Gray has immense potential, if he’s going to reach it, Farke needs to start playing him in his best position.

Archie Gray. Credit: Imago Images

Compared to other midfielders

Leeds United aren’t exactly blessed with numbers in central midfield. While the options they have are consistent, neither Glenn Kamara nor Ilia Gruev offer much of a threat going forward.

In contrast, Gray is one of the club’s most successful dribblers, completing an impressive 41 so far this season. That’s a success rate of almost 55.4%.

His ability to take the ball past an opponent is a useful asset for any midfielder, but it’s not the only weapon in his arsenal. Gray has a much higher recovery rate, winning the ball back 189 times compared to Kamara’s 148 and Gruev’s 78.

Of course with Gray playing at right-back, the numbers will be skewed somewhat, but it shows he has the ability to offer more in midfield.

Dangers of inconsistency

Footballing history is filled with young players who didn’t live up to their hype. Perhaps the most useful example here is ex-Manchester United defender Phil Jones (sorry).

While at Blackburn, Jones was a bonafide centre-back. That was the position he excelled in and it was where he played pretty much all of his football.

Then, he moved to Manchester United and was played all over the pitch, never really getting the opportunity to consistently play in his best position.

There is no doubt Gray will have an incredible career and time is on his side, but in order to fulfill his immense potential, Farke needs to let him make central midfield his own.

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