Cody Drameh loan deal should see a change in unofficial Leeds United policy

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Ever since Marcelo Bielsa’s arrival at Leeds United, a player going on loan has been the slow death of that player’s time at Elland Road.

As of yet, no player who has been loaned out has returned to Leeds to play minutes for the first-team.

Ian Poveda is back at Thorp Arch rebuilding his fitness after an ankle injury during his season-long loan to Blackburn, so there is a possibility that he may buck this trend in the future but players like Alfie McCalmont and Ryan Edmondson have been on multiple loans since the 19/20 season. Meanwhile, Bryce Hosannah, Robbie Gotts and Jordan Stevens were allowed to leave the club permanently after loans of their own. All of these players were once rated highly by the club.

It has emerged Cody Drameh is the next player who will be taking a loan deal in order to play more senior football and this is the deal that should see a pivot away from Leeds’ unofficial policy that a player is finished at the club after going on loan.

Firstly, Drameh is too good and too high in potential for his Leeds career to fizzle out. All of the previously mentioned players looked good in the Professional Development League which Leeds’ U23s competed in before gaining academy category 1 status before the 20/21 season. However, that’s a significant step down in quality to Premier League Two, which is the league Drameh has been playing in for Leeds’ development side.

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In that competition, Drameh has stood out as one of the best fullbacks and this was recognised as he was called up for England’s U21 squad by Lee Carsley. For some time, he has looked like he deserved a chance in Bielsa’s first-team.

However, when his chance did come, it came in a Leeds side ravaged by injuries and looking significantly weaker than it did last season when the Whites finished ninth in the Premier League.

Drameh’s first-team debut came in the Carabao Cup at Arsenal and whilst he admitted himself that he was carrying nerves, he gave a good account of himself. He then made a few short substitute appearances in the Premier League before starting in the 4-1 loss to Arsenal where Leeds had almost an entire team of first-team players unavailable. Unfortunately in this occasion, Drameh struggled badly and Gabriel Martinelli exposed his inexperience as the away side ruthlessly tore Leeds apart.

Drameh has since made a couple more substitute appearances and has looked short of confidence. In that sense, a drop down to the Championship where he can play senior football without coming up against elite forwards could be good for him. It’s thought to be the case that Drameh himself requested the move to play more often, rather than sporadic and short substitute appearances. It should not mean that his time is done at Elland Road though.

After all, one of the best right backs in the Premier League, Reece James, was made by his time on loan in the Championship. Leeds fans will remember his performance for Wigan Athletic at Elland Road in 2018/19 with horror, as by the end of the season he looked every inch a Premier League player in waiting and he showed it on the day Leeds’ automatic promotion hopes evaporated in front of their eyes.

The 20-year-old still has every chance of becoming a Premier League player himself in a season or two’s time. It seems it’s not the case that he’s ready to be next in line at right-back after Luke Ayling is no longer able to be first-choice in the role but that could see the Whites pursue a short-term fix in the role, with Drameh still groomed to take over after he’s gained some more experience of first-team football.

Finally, this unofficial loan policy appears to be of Bielsa’s making. It should be taken into account that the Argentine’s future at Leeds is uncertain.

This is the case every season, due to the nature of him only signing one-year contracts but it feels even more the case this season, with the Whites seeming to run out of steam. It may be that he chooses not to continue next season or that the club decide it’s time to freshen things up with a new coach.

With that in mind, Drameh’s contract runs until the summer of 2024 so it’s entirely possible that the fullback will outlast Bielsa at Leeds. If the manager has deemed the fullback not good enough, it doesn’t mean that any new manager would think the same and may see a future for him at Elland Road.

Whatever happens, Drameh will hope to get a good number of minutes in the Championship for Cardiff for the rest of the season. He’s had a taste of first-team action for Leeds, now he wants to kickstart his career in earnest. Leeds would be foolish to not keep the door open for a return.

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