Ian’s In!

Ian’s In!

Blackburn Rovers have added a second fresh face to their squad, with Leeds United’s Ian Poveda arriving at Ewood Park on a season-long loan deal.

The 21-year-old, who was born in London to Colombian parents and is capable of playing anywhere across the frontline – bar as a striker – arrives in East Lancashire having spent last season, playing for Leeds in the Premier League and impressing Whites’ boss, Marcelo Bielsa on a number of occasions.

After starting his youth career in Chelsea’s academy, where he spent three years, the current England under-20 international, then had two-year spells at Arsenal, Barcelona and Brentford’s youth setups before being poached by Manchester City’s Elite Development Squad in the summer of 2016.

Whilst at Manchester City, Poveda became an integral part of their under-18s side who reached the 2016-17 FA Cup Final. A prolific provider of both goals and assists at youth level, by 2018, Poveda became exposed to varying types of first-team action, both in pre-season and during the Cityzens’ successful domestic cup runs. His senior debut came in January 2019, where he played all 90 minutes in City’s 1-0 Carabao Cup semi-final second-leg victory over Burton Albion, which qualified him for the first medal of his senior career, as City went on to win the 2018-19 edition. His impressive performances at youth level seemingly caught the eye of Pep Guardiola, as Poveda became a peripheral member of the first-team, with him even being named amongst the contingency that travelled to Italy to face Atalanta in a Champions League Group Stage game in November 2019.

By January 2020, Poveda had gained a lot of suitors both domestically, and abroad, with the likes of Serie A’s Torino and Bundesliga’s Hoffenheim scouting the tricky winger, but it was then-Championship side, Leeds United who won the race for Poveda, as the attacker highlighted the presence of Marcelo Bielsa to be a key factor in his decision-making. The deal saw Poveda initially move to Elland Road for free on a four-and-a-half-year deal, yet the several news outlets have reported that Leeds could potentially pay up to £1m for the winger, if specific bonuses are met, with the Manchester club holding 30% of any future sale of the England Youth international. Despite having left the club, his role as part of City’s Carabao Cup side, during the early stages of 2019-20 again qualified him to earn the second medal of his senior career, after City won back-to-back Carabao Cup finals in 2019-20 and he was offered a medal by the club.

Although Poveda arrived at Leeds with high expectations, having been given the prestigious number #7 shirt, he only made four appearances for the Whites, despite being an unused substitute – including in their victory at Ewood Park – in seven of the 18 fixtures remaining in the disrupted 2019-20 campaign. His quality was shown in Leeds’ final game of the season, however, as after the resumption of play following the COVID-19 stoppage, he picked up his only assist of the season after he found Jamie Shackleton with a fine cutback, after the winger ran from inside his own-half to latch onto a raked through ball. Despite his sporadic game time in the White of Leeds, he was able to secure the third medal of his career as Marcelo Bielsa’s side stormed to the 2019-20 title and returned to the Premier League following a 16-year absence.

After Leeds had returned to the top-flight, Poveda became a key impact player for Leeds United as he helped the Yorkshire side finish 9th on their return to the big time. Poveda arguably caught the eye after coming off the bench to aid the newly-promoted side to a 1-1 draw at home to Manchester City, in October 2020, as he terrorised Benjamin Mendy, whilst putting on a fine defensive shift down the wing, against his former club. Although an ankle injury kept him out for around a month between February and March 2021, Poveda racked up appearances in all four of Leeds’ domestic competitions, including 14 substitute appearances in the Premier League, with 18 games seeing him as an unused substitute.

Although Poveda’s club career has yet to flourish as he would have hoped, his international career at youth level for England, has been quite promising, with him holding two youth tournament medals to his name, for the under-16s and under-17s. After recently moving into the under-20s setup in 2019, the winger has notched three goals in four games for the Three Lions’ under-20s side.

After swapping Greater Manchester for Yorkshire, Poveda offered a description of his playstyle to Leeds’ website, which offers an insight into what Rovers will be getting: “I’m an attacking player, I can play right wing, left wing or in attacking midfield, I like to dribble with the ball, link up the play, score goals, create chances, assist and I work hard for the team.”

Although Poveda has yet to open his account for Leeds, his pace and eye for a pass are what initially caught the eye of former Argentina boss, Bielsa. The Leeds manager has highlighted Poveda’s need for more first-team experience saying: “He has worked closely with the first-team who participate in the Premier League, but he faces a lot of competition (to get into the squad)”.

As a result of Bielsa’s claim, Poveda’s move to Rovers comes as a perfect opportunity for the 21-year-old, who has plenty more years to grow, to hone his skills at a high level.