New Leeds United pre-season addition hoping for a breakthrough under Daniel Farke this summer

James Debayo is seen among the Leeds United first-team squad during pre-season at Thorp Arch in July 2024
-Credit: (Image: Leeds United)


As he flew in from the USA after completing his transfer on Tuesday, Joe Rodon completed Daniel Farke’s set of Leeds United players at pre-season. Rodon’s signature and subsequent flight in from the States meant every senior player who featured last season, still contracted, was in place.

Archie Gray is the only one of Farke’s 15 most-used players in the Championship last season who has not been involved this week, following his move to Tottenham Hotspur. Regardless of all the transfer speculation surrounding some members of the squad, everyone has reported in this week and committed to the cause until they are told otherwise.

There has been one face in the group that has caught the eye as a surprise this week. Eighteen-year-old defender James Debayo has been sighted in some of the club’s videos at Thorp Arch.

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The centre-back may well have been called into first-team training by Farke before this summer, but this is the first time he has been seen in the media the club has released. We know pre-season is often a period of change at football clubs as various players are looked at and moved around squads before competitive action begins.

Debayo, who joined Leeds from Watford three years ago, was spotted in the videos recorded before Rodon flew in. It’s feasible the youngster may have been drafted in while the squad was low on centre-backs, but given this was purely fitness work at the start of the week, player positions do not matter.

Time will tell what part Debayo plays in the pre-season friendlies and, from there, if he makes the grade in Farke’s eyes for matchday involvement from August 10. Debayo, who turns 19 next week, is a highly-rated centre-back who has been involved in the England youth set-up.

He has been a part of United’s under-21s for the past two seasons, but has generally been behind the likes of Diogo Monteiro, Jeremiah Mullen and Kris Moore in the pecking order. Perhaps this could be the summer he takes a big leap if Farke likes what he sees.