Since emerging as a diamond in the rough during United’s preseason tour of Cornwall, Sam Byram has remained ever present in the Leeds starting line-up, missing just two games last season. In doing so the 19 year-old attracted plenty of interest from Premier League clubs, but it’s looking more and more likely that he’ll be wearing a white shirt (with a massive blue stripe down the middle) this coming season.
One of Sam’s main strengths is his pace; it helped him keep high calibre players such as Gareth Bale and Wilfried Zaha under wraps. This speed makes the right back hard to avoid, with trouble down the right channel often being nipped in the bud at an early stage of the oppositions attack.
He’s offered a lot of support during Leeds’ attacking movements, placing him in more of a wing-back role. His high level of fitness, another benefit of his youth, enables him to sprint forwards when necessary causing all kinds of trouble for the opposition before immediately returning to his defensive duties. This ability to go forwards has allowed him to pick up a few goals throughout the season, his most notorious being in the League Cup against Oxford.
Another notable attribute the full back possesses is determination; it’s no secret that he puts in extra hours at the training ground, working on his crossing, touch and accuracy. This willingness to learn and improve in turn with his humble and genuine attitude has not only cemented Sam as a firm fan favourite, but has made him very popular with his fellow team mates and other members of staff at Leeds.
Not only is he a local Yorkshire lad with a likeable personality, he’s not uneasy on the eye either. Gifting him with a lot of attention from female fans; belonging to both Leeds and other clubs.
With youth comes inexperience, and that is arguably the only thing that can be criticised in regards to Sam. This lack of experience has caused him to make a few costly slip ups, the most notable coming against Cardiff City which caused us to concede a goal. However, seeing that this was in his first ever season as a professional his lack of mistakes is very impressive.
Sam was ruled out of the last two games of the season through injury, this injury to his hip re-emerged during his time training for the England U20’s world cup forcing him to pull out of the competition. If this injury persists it could jeopardise the beginning of the season for Sam and losing him would be extremely costly to the squad.
This isn’t a personal weakness but it could potentially present itself to be. Byram has received a lot of attention this past year from both other clubs and the media. This could prove costly for him as a Leeds player if his head is ever turned elsewhere. Fortunately there doesn’t appear to be any sign of this yet and he seems to be more focused than ever on playing for his favourite club.
Sam has been our most influential player by far; this was proven when he swept the table at the member’s awards night in May. At just 19 he’s risen to the top in a number of months and looks likely to continue to progress as his experience increases. If he can stay focused on the task at hand with Leeds United and manages to avoid injury, he could be our most influential player this coming season and be a huge strength for us while we push for promotion.
ROLE NEXT SEASON?: First name on the team sheet