‘The sky is the limit’ – Tyler Adams by those who know him best amid Leeds United transfer links

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Leeds United are reportedly stepping up their interest in RB Leipzig midfielder Tyler Adams as the club look to plan for life after Kalvin Phillips. The Whites midfielder has been heavily linked with a move to Manchester City and the Premier League champions look set to make an approach in the coming weeks.

Jesse Marsch and Victor Orta are keen to add further midfield reinforcements, with Marc Roca arriving last week for ?10million, and are eyeing Leipzig’s American midfielder as a potential successor to Phillips. Adams has previous links with Marsch, who gave him his debut as a 16-year-old at New York Red Bulls, and his current club have told him he can leave in search for more football.

He was reunited with the Whites boss at RB Leipzig in 2019 – at a time when Marsch was assistant to Ralf Rangnick – and went on to make over 100 appearances in all competitions including 14 in the Champions League. But the 23-year-old has fallen behind Konrad Laimer, Kevin Kampl and Amadou Haidara in the pecking order.

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And now, according to reports in the Mail Online, Leeds are tracking the progress of Adams’ departure from Leipzig and Marsch is hoping for a second reunion. Despite not being current first-choice at the Bundesliga club, Adams has received plenty of praise from managers throughout his career – including Marsch himself.

During Adams’ debut season in Germany, then manager Rangnick hailed the young midfielder’s commitment, comparing him to the outstanding Joshua Kimmich.

“We spoke about Joshua earlier and Tyler is the same; he has an unbelievable will to win. He wants to win every match and every training game. He wants to improve and listens. He’s never satisfied.” Rangnick said. “He always strives for improvement and in terms of his tactical understanding, I prefer to see him in central midfield because then he’s at the heart of the action.

“I don’t like to see him out wide, although he can do that well and that makes him valuable to the team and to Julian. I see him similarly to Joshua Kimmich, in central midfield as a six or an eight. He has now started to score and create a few goals and I see his potential as being very high, the sky is the limit. As long as he maintains his mentality, and he won’t lose it, I don’t see any limits.”

And Marsch backed that in 2019 when he was assistant to the former Manchester United manager, adding: “The ceiling is massive for him, everyone can see that. I obviously played a part in Tyler, and the relationship with the club, and the eventual move to come here. I knew he’d do well.”

The American coach also spoke about his former player during his time at RB Salzburg, explaining how the then 15-year-old midfielder was the first player with whom he saw such massive potential.

“The first player I ever coached who I saw that in was Tyler Adams. I watched him play, had a 10-minute conversation with him after that game and said to myself, ‘This kid is going to be massive’.” Marsch said. “He was only 15 but it was so easy to see that he had all the tools, mostly from a mental and intelligence perspective, to do whatever it takes.”

Positionally, Adams operates most naturally in central midfield, taking on the same responsibilities as Phillips in Marsch’s midfield two. But he has played right-back before and has the versatility to move around the pitch.

Speaking in September 2020 after a 3-0 win against FC Nurnberg, Leipzig manager Julien Nagelsmann described Adams as a ‘quarterback’: “It didn’t work out at all in training on Friday, but it did in the game. We wanted to open up some new spaces in our build-up play. Tyler played like a quarterback. It gives us new opportunities for the future.”

Also in 2020, USMNT coach Gregg Berhalter spoke about playing Adams at right-back during their sides international games adding that while the youngster has the qualities to play full-back, they see his future in central midfield.

“We’ve played him at right-back before,” Berhalter told sbisoccer.com . “I think he’s a good fit there because of his speed, his dynamic, his ability to process the ball and move forward with the ball and attack with speed.”

“We see him primarily as a central midfielder. We always have seen him as a central midfielder, but we know that when we need to be flexible he can play that position as well. We think right now the right-back position is filled with depth, and he’ll be most suited in our system in central midfield.”

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