By News Team
Last Updated: 18th August 2021
Former Leeds midfielder Lee Sharpe has heaped praise on his old club by saying their performances in the Premier League have been “remarkable” this season.
Sharpe made the move from Old Trafford to Elland Road in 1996, and still keeps a close eye on his former side. And after a whirlwind first year back in the Premier League, Sharpe believes Marcelo Bielsa’s side have a big summer ahead of them to reach the next level and secure European football again for the club.
He said: “I think Leeds have been nothing short of remarkable this season. They’ve come in and have been on the front foot from the first whistle of every game. They play a high tempo, they try and score goals, their defenders are a pack, and they attack as a pack. They’ve been fun to watch and absolutely superb.
“European football next season would be the next progression. They’ve comfortably secured their Premier League status, and they now need to go and make good signings to progress to the next level.”
He continued: “Securing European football is not an easy task. When you look at the likes of West Ham, who are flying, Leicester are doing well again this year, and then underneath them, you’ve still got Chelsea, Liverpool, Spurs and Arsenal who are all going to strengthen and look to do better next season. So that’s the challenge in front of them.
“European football is the next step but if the manager and the club are ambitious enough and they go and buy good players in the summer then that will be the next goal, but it’s still early days as it’s their first season back in the Premier League and you don’t want to overspend and set goals that are too high. The first thing will be to stay in the Premier League.”
Sharpe also singled out Kalvin Phillips and Patrick Bamford for praise this season, claiming that the former will play a pivotal role for England in the European Championship this summer.
He said: “Kalvin Phillips looks like he’s one of Gareth Southgate’s preferred choices in midfield. He played really well in the last couple of games for England. He never gives the ball away, he’s cool under pressure and reads the game well, so I think he looks like a really good player. I think he’ll have a big role to play in the summer at the Euros.
“Patrick Bamford has also had a fantastic season. His work ethic is arguably the best in the world, certainly in the Premier League, but I’m not sure he’ll make the Euros squad just because of the list of people in front of him like Harry Kane and Dominic Calvert-Lewin. I wouldn’t be surprised if he gets taken, but I think he may just miss out this time.”
On the topic of the Euros, Sharpe also revealed the players he would definitely have in the side and empathised with the difficult choices Southgate will have to make on who to bring to the tournament and who to leave out.
He said: “I would definitely take Jack Grealish. I’m an Aston Villa fan, so he’s obviously one of my favourites, but I also think he’s one of the best players we’ve got at going past people. Phil Foden should definitely go in my opinion. You’ve also got to take Harry Kane. Raheem Sterling has got to go, he’s too lively not to take. Jadon Sancho too.
“We’re inundated with forward players, so it’s going to be difficult for Gareth Southgate to go with a squad and then pick an XI from the amazing players we’ve got.”
And Sharpe also believes that the national team have a genuine chance of going all the way and winning the tournament in the summer.
He said: “We’ve got every chance. Offensively we can go up against anybody. We always used to say that other international teams were more technically gifted, and they can pass the ball a bit better, but I think we can do that as well as any country now. We’ve got players with loads of ability, touch, awareness, and education of the game that is far beyond their years.
“I’m sure we’ll use the excuse that we’re not expecting too much from these players because of their age but these lads are good enough. I like Southgate as a manager, and I think he can get the players to express themselves. We play with a British tempo that can cause any team trouble. With a little bit of luck and no injuries I think we’ve got every chance.”