COMMENT By Richard Parks
Leeds United must blow their Premier League and Championship rivals out of the water to sign brilliant Stevenage centre-back Ben Wilmot this summer.
The 18-year-old defender is destined for the top and is so good he can be the bedrock of the Leeds side for the next decade.
The Independent claim there is a stampede of interest in the Englishman, who just six months and 15 matches into his professional career.
It is said that Leeds were “very keen to sign” Wilmot in the January window, as were Liverpool, Derby County and Brighton, while Watford tabled a £500,000 bid and there was also an offer from Tottenham.
That shouldn’t put off United, who have completely overhauled their youth set-up this season with a whirlwind of new arrivals.
Wilmot is clearly a young player of immense potential, but he is also a player who can go straight into the first-team reckoning at Leeds.
The centre-back has established himself at League Two outfit Stevenage through a string of outstanding displays at the centre of their defence since graduating from the club’s academy.
His rise is even more astonishing when taken into account the fact that he has only been playing at centre-back for just over a year, having being moved back there from midfield halfway through last season, the first year of his scholarship.
Wilmot’s call-up to England Under-19s this week, coupled with the Premier League scouts beating a path to Stevenage, suggests that Leeds have their work cut out to win the race for his signature.
Much will depend on who is willing to meet the fourth-tier club’s asking price, as well as the pathways laid down by the interested clubs in developing a teenager who can go all the way in the game.
The Independent report that Stevenage’s £1million asking price for the player is “likely” to be met by a top-flight club this summer.
Leeds can win the race by striking an early summer deal and showing Wilmot how they can develop him into a future England centre-back while playing for an ambitious club in front of one of the most passionate fanbases in the country.
In other Leeds United news, it can be revealed that NINE senior players at the club are in Radrizzani’s firing line and fighting for their jobs.