The latest whisper to watch surrounds Peterborough wonderkid Leonardo da Silva Lopes, who has drawn the attention of some of the biggest clubs in London.
Does the midfielder have what it takes to navigate a way through to the first team in the Premier League, and what does he have to offer to the clubs interested in his services?
Let’s take a closer look at the move.
The player has made just ten appearances for the Posh, making his first team debut as a 16-year-old against Crawley Town. The Portuguese national was nicknamed the ‘Magician’ by former manager Dave Robertson, and he’s continued to develop under the watchful eye of manager Grant McCann.
McCann had this to say recently, as reported by Peterborough Today:
“Leo is a very good player and he’s been in very good form this summer so I hope I don’t lose him. There have been many clubs watching him and I’m not surprised. He’s strong, he’s athletic and he carries the ball very well.”
It seems like he could be the perfect fit for a side willing to give young talent a chance.
The rumours seem to hold substance, considering they were confirmed by none other than Peterborough director of football Barry Fry.
The word is out that Leo is a very talented 17 year-old and clubs have been flocking to watch him. We have had no enquiries, never mind bids, but there have been an awful lot of scouts coming to our games just to watch him. Chelsea, Arsenal and Spurs are among those to have sent scouts to watch him.”
So for now, at least, it seems like the player could have another season at the Posh. He’s been in blistering form during pre-season, which is only going to make any scouts watching more hyperbolic in their praise.
Comparisons with Dele Alli give the player a lot to prove, but what can you expect from a player that is capable of scoring screamers as a fifteen-year-old? The link with Tottenham is also a factor, as he could use Alli’s example as a player that managed to make it in the first team.
The question is, would he be able to make the step up to the first team at one of the biggest clubs in the country? Arsenal (and their manager Arsene Wenger) are known for being happy to give youth a chance, and he’s highly rated at all levels by the club.
Consider the comments made by Chairman Darragh MacAnthony last year, upon confirming the long-term future of some of his top youth players;
“What we are doing is protecting our young talent. When you add Dion-Curtis Henry and Leonardo Da-Silva-Lopes, that is six players that we have secured the services of. It is very important because without them being tied down, they can be stolen for next to nothing and we have high hopes for all of these guys.
Dion is a real talent, there are a lot of Premier League clubs looking at him. We all know what a talent Leo is, even the first team look at him in training and say ‘Wow' because he is only 16.”
It seems like he’s regarded as a special talent by the team, so they’ll be keen to ensure they can keep his services, or they’re at least adequately compensated for giving the player a chance to prove his worth.
As for Chelsea, by previous manager Jose Mourinho.
It’s also worth mentioning that he has no problem with starting younger players, as long as they have what it takes to benefit the team.
“Young players, strong, quality ones, will play. I had my Serie A debut at 16, and was doing the same work as my ‘senior’ teammates. [Gigi] Buffon was 16, [Paul] Pogba, 18. With me at Arezzo, [Andrea] Ranocchia took the central defensive spot from the then-captain.
It doesn’t matter what age is on your ID card.”
So, the player could potentially have a big move in store, and there’s a clear opportunity to force his way into contention if he gets his head down.
He has skills in abundance, and if he doesn’t move soon, it’s likely clubs will come calling again at the nearest opportunity.
The index rating of 1.5 shows that nothing has been decided as of yet, while Fry himself confirmed that Peterborough haven’t received any inquiries, despite the obvious interest.
If one (or more) of the clubs do make an offer, they’ll be signing one of the most exciting young talents in League 1, that has the ability to replicate his form at a higher level if given enough time to develop.
As for Peterborough, they’ll be able to survive without the player thanks to their range of options in midfield.
He was supposed to be one for the future, but it seems like his time with the club is nearing an end.
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Signing quality youth players is always a good idea for big clubs, but is the player ready to make the step up to the Premier League? He has bags of potential and he’s younger than his shirt number, so a deal makes sense if the price is right. Let us know your thoughts on the deal below!