Earlier this month, the Belfast Telegraph reported that Leeds United have won the race to sign Linfield centre-forward Charlie Allen.
Allen, 16, is one of the hottest young prospects in Northern Ireland and had been eyed up by Liverpool, Manchester United, Chelsea, Tottenham and Rangers before he agreed terms to head to Elland Road once the transfer window re-opens.
The teenage striker has already made four senior appearances for Linfield and has earned five caps for Northern Ireland’s Under-27s, scoring one goal in the process which came against Luxembourg last year.
Ex-Leeds forward David Healy has talked up “quality” youngster and after doing some analysis of his fledgeling career, we’ve come to the conclusion that Allen is the perfect project for Marcelo Bielsa to sink his teeth into at Thorp Arch.
No goals (yet) but link-up play superb
Allen has only played 31 minutes of first-team football for Linfield this season but his performances have so far been mightily impressive.
According to stats by WyScout, Allen has completed 92.3 per cent of his passes, averaged 11.6 dribbles per 90 minutes and has a dribble success rate of 100 per cent.
For a striker, you want to see them scoring goals but Allen has only had one shot this season and that did hit the target.
Allen’s only shot at goal came in Linfield’s 2-1 win against Ballymena United in October and although it wasn’t something that stood out, it showed that the young forward has the ability to drop into space (as seen above) and then use his quick feet to drive forward.
The centre-forward dropping deep is always something that Bielsa has wanted to see in his side with Patrick Bamford being involved in a lot of Leeds’ build-up play.
In this instance, Allen dropped deep into space, drove at the defenders and managed to get a shot on target from outside the penalty area while crowded by three opposing players.
We love to see such confidence from young players but, unfortunately, he wasn’t able to make the net ripple on this occasion.
Aside from his ability to drop deep and cause a nuisance, Allen has shown the quick feet and composure needed from a striker who can play in tight spaces and bring his team-mates into play.
Take a look at this phase of action from Linfield’s win against Ballymena.
Allen picked the ball out of the air after a goal-kick and although his first attempted pass failed to find a team-mate, he regained possession, calmly manoeuvred around a rogue referee, played a nice one-two with a team-mate and then held his nerve to turn his back to goal while under pressure and play the ball back to a defender.
Reminder: Allen is 16-years-old.
We understand that footage of Allen is limited and his stats are, so far, based on a handful of substitute appearances but there is no denying that this is a player that Bielsa can improve upon at Thorp Arch and mould him into his perfect striker.
We just need Bielsa to stay on for five or six years so we can see the results.
In other Leeds United news, the Whites have been dealt a transfer blow over a defender on their radar.