In an official statement, Leeds United have confirmed the sale of Niall Huggins. The young centre-back has joined Sunderland on a permanent deal and has signed a four-year contract with the League One outfit. He becomes the second high profile academy defender to leave Elland Road this summer after Oliver Casey, who joined Blackpool.
Who Is Niall Huggins?
A native of York, Niall Huggins had been a part of the Leeds United academy since 2009, at the age of just eight. Since then he has enjoyed a meteoric rise to prominence with the right-back even receiving his first professional contract in 2019.
During his time at Leeds, Huggins has mostly played for the Under-23 setup, notably featuring in 17 matches in Premier League 2 last season. He was the team’s main right-back, chipping in with two goals and an assist that helped the Whites to win their division, in the Elite Development League.
The 20-year-old’s contributions were rewarded with a senior debut earlier this year when he featured as a substitute in the Premier League clash against Arsenal in February.
Leeds United lost the game 4-2 and unfortunately, Huggins never really managed to break into the starting eleven ever since despite being a part of the bench on multiple occasions.
Did He Have Any Future At The Club?
Niall Huggins is undoubtedly a talented star, who has the quality to potentially become an asset for any English club. However, his prospects at Elland Road were very limited even though the club only has Luke Ayling as the fully-fledged option at right-back.
Marcelo Bielsa, in the past, has used Stuart Dallas in that position while he can always shift to a wingback system to deploy Raphinha as a wingback. Hence, it is hardly surprising that the youngster failed to appear more for the first team last season.
As far as Leeds’ reserve side is concerned, they already have a viable replacement for Huggins, in the shape of Cody Drameh. A move away from Elland Road, therefore, certainly makes sense for the 20-year-old.
Sunderland, in particular, could be an ideal destination as the Black Cats do lack depth in the right-back position. The youngster can thus compete with Luke O’Nien for a place in the first team next season, as he looks to make his breakthrough in senior football.