With over 100 appearances in youth football and almost as many in professional senior level football under his belt — the generic benchmarks that are often considered when evaluating young players’ level of experience and progress — Lewis Baker should be ready for the big time. But last year’s disappointing twelve months at Middlesbrough means that his progression has taken a hit and there is some catching up to do.
Once ahead of the likes of Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Nathaniel Chalobah in the Academy, Lewis now find himself at the tail end of those rankings. Fortunately, there’s plenty of time to recover.
“It was a difficult season.
“Obviously I went there [to Middlesbrough] and the manager saw something else in me. It’s his opinion, it’s my opinion but that’s fine. It’s part and parcel of football and it’s not always going to go up. It’s like a rollercoaster ride as it may sound.
“It taught me a lot anyway because it focused me more. It made me stronger mentally so all in all I wouldn’t say it was a bad season. It was a season for learning different things.”
That mental fortitude, combined with his two-footed excellence should be a great combination for Leeds United and new manager Marcelo Bielsa. For Lewis, it’s also about personal redemption.
“A lot of critics say: ‘he has done well abroad but can he do it in England?’ Obviously I know I can and I just want to show everyone that I can.
“I think it’s a big season for me personally. I think everyone knows that. I don’t really see that as pressure from the outside because I don’t have anyone to compete with apart from myself but I’m a determined lad and I’ve got a point to prove and I can’t wait for the season to start.”
-Lewis Baker; source: Yorkshire Evening Post
There were some suggestions that Baker, 23, would be leaving permanently before the season-long loan was confirmed. His Chelsea future hangs by just that much of a thread at the moment.
Success at Leeds could turn that right around. He’s already made an impression in training.
“He’s been unbelievable.
“Lewis is a good guy and as soon as he walked in all the boys were welcoming with him and talking to him. Where we have been staying we have been doing stuff together and it’s been a great addition to the team I think. He’s a great player.”
-Ronaldo Vieira; source: Yorkshire Evening Post
Leeds, who will look to better last season’s mid-table finish in 13th, begin their preseason program next Tuesday (July 17) away to Forest Green Rovers. They may be a classic rival from the olden days, but Lewis at Leeds will be one to keep an eye on next season, that’s for sure.