All appears to be well at Leeds United. Garry Monk has instilled a winning mentality into the squad, which was epitomised with the mid-week 2-0 victory over Nottingham Forest at Elland Road. A seven-match unbeaten run came crashing to an end when the team were second-best away at Barnsley, but the Whites responded in perfect fashion, with Chris Wood’s 20th goal of the season and a Yeboah-esque volley from Souleymane Doukara proving enough to move United back up to third in the Championship.
What’s not to enjoy then? The team are flying high, scoring brilliant goals, and bouncing back to any setbacks. Well, the sale of Alex Mowatt to Barnsley earlier today for an undisclosed fee has taken the gloss off the good for some of the Whites faithful. Granted, he hasn’t been a key feature of Garry Monk’s first team this season, but who can forget the 25 yard rocket he smashed home at the Leeds end away at Huddersfield last season? Or his goal of similar ilk in front of the Elland Road Kop against Cardiff City?
But more significantly than the memorable long-range goals, Mowatt’s transfer sees another of the young Leeds United academy contingent leaving West Yorkshire. Following the transfers of Sam Byram to West Ham and Lewis Cook to Bournemouth, many felt that Charlie Taylor would be the most likely of the current academy graduates to move on. And whilst Taylor’s future is, in the minds of some fans, still very much up in the air, not many could have predicted Mowatt moving down the M1 to the Tykes.
It seems a sad move for the young midfielder, who was tipped with a multi-million pound move to the Premier League 18 months ago; the club appear to have developed a style of play that does not suit Mowatt, rather than building the team around him, as were the calls at the height of his time at Elland Road. But it could prove a good move for all parties; the Doncaster-born playmaker will act as a direct replacement for the departing Conor Hourihane, and having the opportunity to be the main creative force in a decent, improving Championship side may be what Mowatt needs to reignite his career.
It seems a shame to see another academy player leave, but it is an unfamiliar feeling for the club to have developed more than the player over the past 12 months. The sale of Alex Mowatt will not have a significant impact on Leeds United’s season; Pablo Hernandez, Hadi Sacko, Kemar Roofe and Stuart Dallas are more than capable of providing the creativity as Leeds look to continue their promotion push. But it could be just the move the young midfielder needs to get his career back on track. Good luck Alex; and if you fancy scoring any worldies for Barnsley, do it against the promotion rivals, eh?