When Leeds confirmed they had signed Ian Poveda from Manchester City on a four-year deal back in January, there was surely a sense of hope and expectation that the 20-year-old could help the Whites in their quest for promotion.
In fact, speaking after the deal was confirmed, Pep Guardiola waxed lyrical about the youngster. and spoke highly of how he could develop under Marcelo Bielsa. He said: “To be training with one of the best, maybe the best, managers in the world in terms of how he helps the players to be better players. He has an incredible power to develop. For the way Leeds play suits perfect for his qualities.”
Whilst football’s postponement meant there weren’t too many games for Poveda to get a chance to shine in, the very fact is Poveda could only make the bench for two matches, before not even being named in the match-day squad for the rest.
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It was a really puzzling couple of months for the England U20 international, with Bielsa offering up the reason that the way he organises his substitutes “with two defenders, two midfielders and two strikers”, means there was no space for Poveda.
Now, The Athletic journalist Phil Hay has delivered an update on the current situation with the winger, admitting the whole thing is “slightly strange”, and that “to the best of our knowledge, Poveda hasn’t been injured”.
But with the Championship set to resume later this month, Bielsa surely has to bring the 20-year-old from out of the shadows, and give him the genuine opportunity to wreak havoc on opposition defences.
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A piece of magic in a U23s game for Leeds showed the kind of ability he has, and it’s no surprise that former Whites goalkeeper Paul Robinson has insisted he can go on to be a success at Elland Road.
He declared: “Leeds have signed him for a reason, Bielsa knows he’s a top, top player. Next season I think we’re really going to see the best of him.”
But rather than waiting to see what he can do next year, Leeds could unshackle Poveda and watch him fire the club to promotion back to the Premier League this season. So whilst fans have previously expressed their excitement at seeing fellow January recruit Jean-Kevin Augustin showcase his true potential when football returns, perhaps they should have more of an eye on another young talent.