In May 2017, Andrea Radrizzani’s full buyout of Leeds United marked a shift in the landscape of the club. A new era was ushered in and with it, structural changes and a new vision and identity.
Victor Orta, a controversial figure considering his questionable track record at Middlesbrough, was appointed as director of football in one of several key changes in the club hierarchy.
A main focus for Orta was recruitment, but it was quickly established it was not just the first team which required strengthening.
In a season like no other in the history of Leeds United, the club recruited 14 players purely for the club’s youth system, eight of which arrived in the summer of 2017.
It was a dramatic overhaul, but the recruitment spree could not be judged immediately or even after a season due to the young ages of the new additions.
However, four years on, the success of Orta’s first batch of under-23 recruits can certainly be judged and LeedsLive has reflected on the career progressions of every single academy recruit from that summer.
The first of the club’s young recruits in the summer of 2017, Gomes joined with an impressive CV having already represented Villarreal and Liverpool at youth level.
Despite appearing in Carabao Cup wins over Port Vale and Newport County, the versatile Spaniard was not included in any Championship matchday squads and left after just a year at Elland Road.
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Short-lived stints in France and Croatia followed before Gomes signed a two-year deal with Doncaster Rovers, where he made 55 appearances across the duration of his contract.
He recently spent time on trial at Portsmouth, but failed to win a contract.
Balboa was somewhat of an unknown quantity when he arrived in West Yorkshire and was unfortunately still one when he left.
The forward failed to make the grade in England after joining from Spanish minnows Unif. Bellvitge and spent much of his Leeds spell out on loan in his native Spain.
After returning home for spells with Lorca and Montanesa, he moved to Poland and now plies his trade in the Polish second tier with GKS Jastrzebie.
Diaz appeared to have all the tools necessary to carve out a career in at least the EFL, making his Championship debut less than a year after signing for the club and then captaining the under-23s to the Professional Development League trophy.
However, the Spanish defender was allowed to move on in 2019 and has since failed to find regular football with Getafe and in Poland with Korona Kielce.
Hosannah joined from Premier League side Crystal Palace and did not take long to make the right-back position in the under-23s his own.
He made Marcelo Bielsa’s bench for a Championship win over Huddersfield Town in December 2019 despite undergoing surgery at the beginning of the season and was progressing at a seemingly rapid rate.
A loan move to Bradford City last season started promisingly, but the young defender saw his spell with the Bantams cut short by injury.
Hosannah now faces competition in the under-23 setup from Cody Drameh and may have a fight for a future at Elland Road on his hands.
The Spanish midfielder joined having ascended the youth ranks of Rayo Vallecano, but failed to make a breakthrough at Leeds, being sent out on loan to Burgos before sealing a permanent move to UD Ibiza in 2019.
He spent last season with CD Mostoles but is now without a club.
A product of Barcelona’s famous academy, Rey signed a two-year contract with Leeds after leaving La Masia.
He became a first-team regular out on loan at Spanish side Conquense, but it was not enough to secure a long-term stay at Elland Road and he left for Real Valladolid in 2019.
After establishing himself within the club’s B team, he made his La Liga debut in January 2021, but may now have to prove himself in the Spanish second tier as Valladolid were relegated at the end of last season.
Moroccan winger Siddiki was plucked from Spanish giants Real Madrid in 2017, but struggled to make enough of an impression at Thorp Arch to catch the attention of Thomas Christiansen or Paul Heckingbottom.
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He left for Spanish outfit Logrones in 2018 and has since progressed into their first-team, who compete in Spain’s third tier, after impressing for their B team.
It could be argued Temenuzhkov’s arrival stirred up more excitement than any of the young players drafted in during the summer of 2017.
Joining from Barcelona and boasting caps for Bulgaria at youth level, the forward looked an exciting prospect and his exploits with United’s under-23s earned him a first-team debut against Queens Park Rangers in January 2019.
He signed a contract extension in September 2019, but since returning to Spain on loan in January 2020, has not made an appearance at Elland Road.
Temenuzkhov spent last season with Spanish outfit Real Union and has already agreed to extend his loan spell there for a further year.