Who is Lewis Bate? The Chelsea starlet set for Leeds United switch
Chelsea starlet Lewis Bate looks set to complete a move to Leeds United in the next 24 hours.
The 18-year-old is one of the Blues' most highly rated young talents but has reached a contract impasse and only has a year remaining on his current deal.
A host of Premier League clubs have been linked including Liverpool, West Ham and Southampton.
But it appears Leeds have leapt to the front of the queue; Marcelo Bielsa is thought to be a fan, and multiple reports suggest that the midfielder is set for a medical at Elland Road on Wednesday with a view to a permanent deal.
And a cursory glance at his recent 'follow' list on Instagram, increasingly an indicator of player movements of late, shows him linking with a host of Leeds first-teamers.
Chelsea youngster Lewis Bate has 12 months remaining on his deal at Stamford Bridge and is the subject of reported interest from Southampton, West Ham, Liverpool and Leeds.— Joe Donnohue (@JoeDonnohue) July 19, 2021
Seems as though he’s been on a bit of a follow-spree over on Instagram. pic.twitter.com/xo6jWDWY2s
The deal is thought to not include a buy-back option for Chelsea, whose academy is among the most revered in the world but appear to be cashing in on some of their assets.
Marc Guehi recently moved to Crystal Palace while Fiyako Timori completed a switch to Milan. Billy Gilmour, meanwhile, has been farmed out on loan to gain more first-team experience.
Lewis Bate: Position, playing style, strengths
A diminutive central midfielder, Lewis Bate isn’t exactly like the type of player known for his physical presence, but he more than makes up for it in the way he covers ground on the pitch.
Described as a “terrier” by his former coach Chris Spearing, Bate is just 5”6, but his low centre of gravity enables him to evade opponents' challenges, whilst making some hefty ones of his own.
An aggressive central midfielder when defending, but calm and composed on the ball, Bate is widely regarded as a better player than Billy Gilmour was at the same age by Chelsea academy coaches, and it was believed that a first-team debut was around the corner.
He has appeared twice on the bench for the senior side, including in the Champions League last-16 second-leg tie against Bayern Munich last summer, but is yet to make his first-team debut. Frank Lampard’s assistant Jody Morris was a big fan of the player, but after Lampard’s departure, his chances of a senior debut were delayed, and his patience has run out.
The Blues were keen for him to sign a contract extension, but he has rejected that offer, and a deal has been agreed with Leeds. Liverpool were also interested in Bate, but he wasn’t keen on moving to another club’s academy; he wants first-team, Premier League football, and he wants it now.
One factor that has likely pushed that urge has been the success of Tariq Lamptey at Brighton. The flying right-back left Chelsea in January 2020 and is now already a proven Premier League player.
Before his injury last season, he was arguably one of the best full-backs in the division, and Bate will have noted how quickly he rose to prominence away from Stamford Bridge.
Bate won’t be the only academy player to leave Chelsea this summer, with attacking midfielder Myles Peart-Harris expected to join newly-promoted Brentford, whilst Academy Player of the Year Valentino Livramento is also seeking an exit.
Although Armando Broja has signed a new five-year deal, both Fikayo Tomori and Marc Guehi have left on permanent deals, and it seems as though Chelsea’s faith in their academy is running out.