Sam Byram – The Next Gareth Bale?


With the quality of right-back’s in England at a premium – a certain young lad in the Championship could well be set to burst onto the scene in the Premier League. Leeds United have a star on their hands, and may well cash in this summer…the question is – where to go for Sam Byram?

The Essex-born 21 year old has made over 115 appearances for Leeds, scoring 7 goals. But it’s his strong offensive runs and creativity that is getting attention from many of the Premier League’s big guns. Liverpool, Man City, Everton and Southampton are among those interested – and with his traits, comparisons to Gareth Bale have surfaced. His defending is not the best it could be, and with him being used at right back and right midfield, he could follow in the steps of Bale in turning into a winger rather than defender.

He has to make a choice – because quite frankly he could probably choose his next move. Go too big, and risk getting benched for months on end like Scott Sinclair, Jack Rodwell and Adam Johnson did at Man City. Same can be said for the likes of Chelsea, who seem to get bored of a player very quickly and rather than develop them, simply sell on with a buy back fee incase they come good elsewhere.

There could be a transfer-triangle. One move could trigger a Byram bid from a selling side. Man Utd seem to be in the market for a new right back – Nathaniel Clyne, Seamus Coleman and Daryl Janmaat are targets – the 3rd option there is the last option if the others are too expensive I would think. If either Everton, Southampton or Newcastle sell their prized right-back to Man Utd, all three should be looking to Byram, who could only cost between £8-10m. Both Everton and Southampton have been credited with interest in Byram, but with Clyne and Coleman there what’s the point of buying an expensive back up?

The other interested party are Liverpool – who will definitely be buying a new right back. Glen Johnson is leaving for pastures new, while Javi Manquillo will no doubt be going back to Atletico Madrid after a poor loan spell. Byram has been watched by their scouting team and Rodgers himself, because he has the potential to play as a wing-back, something Brendan Rodgers uses in his 3-5-2 system. Alberto Moreno has the one spot tied down, Byram would be an excellent choice for the other side.

The key question is how he deals with pressure. Leeds fans have been used to average performances from their team in the Championship after a poor season or three, so he has been seen as a bright spark. At Liverpool, the fans are a little less forgiving. One or two bad performances, or a bad spell when he first comes could see forums/social media fill up with Byram-bashing comments. If he is mentally strong enough – then Liverpool would be a perfect fit given his capabilities.

Honestly I couldn’t see Liverpool going anywhere else. Across Europe there are not too many quality right backs that would come in for less than £15-20m, as Moreno cost them similar. Alongside Adam Lallana, Jordan Henderson, Danny Sturridge and Raheem Sterling in the side, they could form a very good English based spine which could really help the national team.

Speaking of the National team – a season at a Premier League team should see him in the mix at Under 21 level, even senior – as Nathaniel Clyne looked a little out of his depth against a few weak teams, however you can’t write him off as he has been terrific for Southampton this season.

For me – Southampton or Everton would be a better move in the long term, as bigger teams will come in if he is Premier League-proven. Even if Newcastle stay up and none of the others move for him, that could  be a good move – a fair few players have gone there, performed reasonably well and got big moves – one I forsee this summer is Janmaat, who is one of about three players to come out with their heads held high. Mathieu Debuchy is another – so right-backs have done well there recently!

So – could Byram be the next Gareth Bale? Yes – he has all the attributes to succeed at the top level, and if he stays at Leeds any longer it he will suffer for it. Too good for them, and needs a new challenge!