Speaking on the latest episode of The Athletic Football Podcast, George Elek has labelled Leeds youngster Joe Gelhardt as a ‘star’ and ‘absolute bundle of energy’ following the 19-year-old’s breakthrough in the first team under Marcelo Bielsa.
The striker, signed for Leeds from Wigan Athletic in August 2020, made his first top-flight appearance off the bench last month against Southampton.
Now, in the latest episode of The Athletic Football Podcast, Elek lauded the Leeds youngster, even citing that he was surprised that it has taken this long for Gelhardt to break into the first team at Elland Road.
Elek said: “The one player who he’s always been compared to, from right back when he first came into the side at Wigan, was Wayne Rooney – and a young Wayne Rooney.
“He’s an absolute bundle of energy. He’s someone who loves to get on the ball, drive at players, getting his shots off. He is such an exciting talent, and even though he came into the side at Wigan at a time where Wigan had some serious financial issues, they had a very, very good crop of youngsters, but he was always the star.
“I think Wigan would have hoped to have kept hold of him if it wasn’t for the need to sell young players, but their loss has been Leeds’ gain. I’ve been surprised how long it’s taken him to break into the first team, but we know that Marcelo Bielsa likes to drill his players into playing a certain way.”
TIF Thoughts on Joe Gelhardt’s breakthrough season at Leeds United…
Gelhardt got his first start in the Premier League for Leeds in their 2-1 defeat at Tottenham last weekend, as the 19-year-old striker led the line in the absence of star striker Patrick Bamford who is currently nursing an injury.
With the likes of Rodrigo on the books at Leeds, it is arguably a measure of how highly he is rated by Bielsa that he was opted to spearhead the Whites’ attack last Sunday.
His comparisons with Wayne Rooney would suggest Gelhardt is capable of becoming a huge star for Leeds within the Premier League over the coming seasons, and the Liverpudlian will be hoping for a second successive start in the Premier League when they take on Graham Potter’s Brighton side at the Amex Stadium in the league as Bielsa’s side look to return to winning ways and reignite their season.