Born and bred on Merseyside, Ryan Ledson is arguably the next ‘Steven Gerrard of Everton’. Over the last 25 years, the only one-club type player Everton have had has been Leon Osman and even Ossie, hasn’t really been a Goodison hero, he’s just sort of always been around. Despite the success of Everton’s youth academy the Blues haven’t found their own Steven Gerrard, a player who showed everlasting loyalty to the club through thick and thin. Everton have produced gems such as Wayne Rooney and one-cap-wonder Francis Jeffers as well as upcoming youngsters Ross Barkley and Tyias Browning but Everton seem to be a feeder for larger clubs in England. However, this current generation of youngsters seems like it may produce a batch of talented large enough for at least a couple to remain at Everton in the future.
Ryan Ledson in particular is a player for whom it seems like Everton will be his home for a long time, the central midfielder has supported Everton all his life and has expressed his desire to continue playing for the club.
Ledson is sure to be given an opportunity at first team level in the next couple of years,possibly even sooner, manager Roberto Martinez is reported to have been closely following the 18 year-old’s progress with the Under 21 squad this season. Ledson has already had a taste of first team action, playing the full match in a Europa League match against Krasnodar last season and receiving large praise on social media.
The 18 year-old is a player who could play in any role in central-midfield. He is very tough tackler and the intensity of his pressing is superb, watching Ledson for a few minutes will give you an indication of how passionate he is on the pitch, he will give his all for 90 minutes. Ledson’s mentality is very good, but he is capable technically too, as expected of a modern centre-midfielder. Ledson’s long-passing is excellent, this might increase his chances of playing as a deep midfielder rather than as an 8. However, one skill that can be utilised when Ledson is an 8 is his long-shooting accuracy and power, if played as a 6 this would put one of the midfielder’s key skills to limited use. Ledson even for his young age has good stamina, and is a very well rounded player, this could also point towards a box-to-box midfielder role. However, playing in such an important role at a young age may put quite a lot of pressure on him as it would require Ryan to make a difference at both ends of the pitch, Ledson does look capable of handling pressure well though, especially for a guy his age.
Although ‘Lego’s desire is second to none, his intelligence and awareness on the pitch needs improvement if he is to nail down a starting spot at Everton. Yes Ledson’s intensity and commitment are great, but sometimes the decision making lets him down. Also at times Ledson’s positional discipline can leave the team bare in midfield and allow the opposition space and time. Playing in a double-pivot would slightly mask this flaw in Ledson’s game, for example, Ledson and Gareth Barry would probably make a decent partnership for a double-pivot, as Barry’s positional awareness would allow him to cover for Ledson. Another weakness in his game is again mental, this is only natural for a young footballer though, Ledson lacks patience at times and often forces vertical passes when there is a safer/better passing option. This would mean coaching Ledson a more possession based approach if he is to play in a possession based team. Everton have switched to a slightly more vertically originated approach this season, a style very much suited to Ledson himself.
For sure, Ryan Ledson has the desire, commitment and technical ability in his locker but to become one of England’s best midfielders in the future, Ledson must improve his tactical intelligence and positioning, especially in a game as tactically innovative as modern football.