Both matches were disappointing. In fact, the best passage of play over the 180 minutes against Ajax was probably when the 23’s played the second half of the first match. One player in particular impressed, and not just because he scored. Leeds might have their next Alan Smith in Max Dean.
Coming on at half-time in the first clash, a 3-1 defeat at Ajax’s training complex, Dean got the only Leeds goal in both matches. Breaking into the box from the edge of the area, 17-year-old Dean twisted and turned before going over. Immediately, he picked up the ball and scored from the spot.
But that is not the only thing he did against Ajax’s second string. Before that, he had earned himself the reputation of Ajax goalkeeper Charlie Setford. Nearly getting on the end of a loose ball, Dean looked to pinch the ball but instead ended up kicking Setford. The goalkeeper was not impressed.
What comparisons does Dean have with Leeds icon Smith?
The forward, from Merseyside, was impressive for Under-18 and Under-23 sides last season. Scoring four for the 23’s in nine games, he also scored four for the 18’s. At just 17, it is an impressive rate. But what is clear, is that Leeds have a young talent that combines quality with aggression.
He is going to be a player that opposition fans and players hate because he plays on the edge. Dean is tenacious, he will leave a foot in, he will be on the radar of referees – but with that, he will combine it with quality. Take the edge away, you take the ability away.
Similarly, Dean and Smith could play out wide or up front coming through the academy – and could get a red card. Dean could be the new Smith.