When Leeds United signed an 18-year-old Sam Greenwood from Arsenal for an initial fee of £1.5m back in the summer of 2020, the Elland Road faithful would have been forgiven for thinking the centre-forward would slowly work his way through the Whites youth ranks before eventually making his first-team breakthrough a few years down the line.
However, while it is true that the majority of the striker’s appearances for the club have come for the U21s, Greenwood has already become a regular part of Jesse Marsch’s matchday squads – and, considering just how exciting a prospect the 20-year-old very much appears to be, it is not difficult to understand why this is the case.
Indeed, over his 18 Premier League 2 appearances for the U21s in 2020/21, the £2.25m-rated forward was in sensational goalscoring form, hitting the back of the net on 12 separate occasions – an average of one every 119 minutes of football played.
It was a similar case for the former Arsenal frontman over his 18 fixtures for the U21s last season, with the attacker scoring seven goals and providing his teammates with five assists over 17 outings in the Premier League 2, as well as bagging one goal in one EFL Trophy match – averaging a direct goal contribution every 95.5 minutes of football played for the youth side.
These returns saw the youngster earn no less than 24 call-ups to Leeds’ first-team squad last time out, with Greenwood making seven Premier League appearances under the management of Marsch towards the end of the Whites’ campaign – notching two assists in the process – as well as making two outings in the FA Cup and Carabao Cup last term.
Indeed, the 48-year-old manager appears to be a massive fan of the “two-footed” 20-year-old, stating of the striker’s development back in April this year (via the Yorkshire Evening Post):
“Sam’s been really good since we’ve been here and I said to him that if I look at the entire player pool, he’s the one that’s adapting the best and understanding what we want the game to be like. I think he showed that [against Watford] and he also has quality.
“He has the ability to make some final plays, he’s very technical, so we’ve got to find ways to include him more. I’ve got to find ways to include Joffy [Gelhardt] more, I’ve got to find ways to include [Crysencio] Summerville more. All three of those guys, for me, are going to be big players here and are important for us moving forward.”
Then, speaking about the youngster’s potential role in his first-team squad ahead of the 2022/23 campaign back in July, Marsch once again heaped praise on the striker, stating (via One Football):
“First of all, he has a lot of flexibility to his game. He’s played six, eight, 10, he can play striker. In some ways, it’s not fair to him to try different positions, but he’s an intelligent player. He fits within what we’re trying to build within our team.
“He’s a hard worker, he’s an intelligent guy, he’s able and that’s the reason why we use him in a lot of positions because he’s very adaptable. He understands tactics and his role and he has big talent.”
As such, considering just how fond of the £2.6k-per-week talent – who coaches at Leeds have dubbed “phenomenal” – Marsch clearly is, in addition to how much the 20-year-old has developed since his arrival at Elland Road back in 2020, it would indeed appear as if Orta unearthed a diamond in Greenwood – with the forward’s future in LS11 appearing to be incredibly bright.