Leon King played the most Champions League minutes of any player aged 21 or under. A truly incredible stat for the young centre back. He was thrust into the first team at the beginning of the season due to the amount of injuries in the squad. Despite at times looking out of his depth, which is understandable for an 18-year-old in the situation, he always gave his all.
He can hardly be blamed for Rangers abysmal performance in the group stages. He played against some of the best forwards in Europe and held his own for the most part.
Obviously there are areas of his game that he needs to improve on, but he only turned 19 in January. A section of fans on social media seem to have already written off his Rangers career, which is a wild take.
He’s started the last two SPFL games and will most likely start against St.Mirren today. He didn’t put a foot wrong in the Hibs game. He defended well and also used the ball really well, similar to Souttar, he’s incredibly comfortable bringing the ball out from the back.
He struggled at times in the first half against Hearts playing up against the pace of Josh Ginnelly. Then in the second half he had figured out how to play against him and at one point even matched him stride for stride before sliding in and putting the ball out of play.
One of his main strengths is his passing ability. In the last two games his passing through the lines has been terrific, as have his long passes. He can definitely rival Connor Goldson with his ability to play those long switches into space.
When he’s on the ball he plays very similarly to Souttar in that he keeps the ball until he sees a pass that he likes. He’s not as physical or robust as Souttar is but there aren’t many defenders who are.
His ability to dominate strikers is something he can improve on but that’s something that comes with experience. He reads the game reasonably well for a player of his age, he just needs to pick when to sit back or when to nip in front of the forwards more wisely.
His numbers in the SPFL this season are encouraging;
- 14 Appearances (9 Starts)
- 88% Pass Accuracy
- 63% Long Ball Accuracy (3.3 Per Game)
- 67% Ground Duels Won
- 49% Aerial Duels Won
For reference, he has a better long ball accuracy % than Goldson (56%) and Davies (57%) and both of those players are lauded for their long passing ability. Aerially he can definitely improve but that goes to the previous point of working out how to dominate opposition forwards.
Leon King is only 19-years-old and has gained more experience this season than he could’ve dreamed of. That will only make him a better player for the future. Is he the finished article? No, but how many 19-year-old centre backs are?
He was linked to Newcastle last summer which shows he was already highly rated before this season. He needs time, maybe a loan would be good for him, or maybe just more first team minutes next season.
To write off a young player already is absolutely ludicrous. He has shown in his last two appearances that he has improved and has the potential to be great.
How do you rate Leon King? What would be best for his development, more minutes at Ibrox or a loan move where he could be a guaranteed starter?