Nathan Laleye

Top south London prospect, 16, signs for Portuguese football club

A top football prospect from south London will continue his development in Portugal after completing a transfer to Grupo Sportivo de Loures.

Nathan Laleye, who featured in an exclusive Player Impact article, was snapped up after becoming the youngest footballer to play for Guildford City FC in February, aged just 16 years and two months.

Nathan’s dad Richard Laleye told Player Impact: “We’re absolutely over the moon. 

“Hard work, dedication and self-belief have led my son to this path, signing his first contract in Portugal and playing in the national league. 

“I would like to thank his agent Paulo Valente (All Talent Sports) for his dedication and commitment and also coaches Mario de Brito and Antonio Paulo Pendao.

“These individuals have gone above and beyond to bring my son from south London to Portugal.”

Read more: How one of US football’s brightest talents moved to Hungary’s biggest team during the pandemic

Nathan Laleye
Nathan Laleye became the youngest footballer to play for Guildford City FC

Despite his young age, Nathan is already sprinting harder and covering more distance than most adult footballers. 

In Laleye’s debut game for Guildford against AFC Hayes, he covered approximately 11.45km – the best in the Premier League in a single game was 13.21km last season. 

Laleye’s sprint distance against Hayes, the total distance a player covers while sprinting in a match, was 973.61m, which is higher than the average of 746m.

This means he is already adapted to the English game, where sprint distances and high-intensity runs are required more than on the European continent.

Guilford City FC manager Paul Barnes said: “ It was a superb debut from Nathan Laleye. He has a bright future in the game.

“I was so proud of him for his performance and maturity in stepping up to senior football. He was bright and hardworking. What a way to introduce yourself as a 16-year-old.”

Watch: New documentary on unsigned ex-academy footballers out now 

Nathan Laleye
Guilford City FC manager Paul Barnes described Nathan as “mature”, “bright” and “hardworking”

Laleye’s impressive start can be compared to other top young British prospects who have made a senior debut at a young age recently, including Borussia Dortmund’s Bellingham, Manchester United’s Greenwood and Chelsea’s Gilmour. 

Laleye’s running stats are similar to Gilmour, who made his Premier League debut for the west London side on August 31, 2019. 

The Scotland international was just 17 when he came on as a substitute against Sheffield United.

In 2020 before the Covid restart, Gilmour was Chelsea’s record runner in a single game when he covered a colossal 12.62km against Everton.

In comparison, Laleye covered 11.45km in his debut game, but he was a year younger than Gilmour.

In the Premier League 2019/20 season, the most distance covered by a player in a single match was 13.21km, which is an indication of Laleye’s work rate.

Nathan Laleye
Laleye has impressive stats for a 16-year-old

Laleye has also been a prolific goal scorer at youth level, just like England striker Greenwood. 

Greenwood, the youngest Premier League starter and European player for Man Utd at 17, netted an impressive amount for his academy teams. 

When Greenwood was just six years old he scored a staggering 16 goals in his debut match for a local side.

He went on to play for the  Man Utd under 18s when he was 15 and scored an impressive 17 goals in 21 games.

Laleye was just as prolific when he was younger, scoring an impressive 74 goals in a single season at Dagenham and Redbridge’s youth team when he was 11.

Laleye’s progression at a young age can also be compared to Bellingham, who in 2019 became the youngest footballer to play for Birmingham City aged just 16 years and 38 days.

Since moving to Dortmund this season, he broke the record for the youngest Englishman to score in the Champions League, aged 17 years and 289 days, when Dortmund lost 4-2 to Manchester City in the quarter-finals. 

After Theo Walcott and Wayne Rooney, he was also the third-youngest player to make his England debut aged 17 and 136 days, when the Three Lions played Ireland in a friendly at Wembley last November. 

Read more about Nathan Laleye’s impressive stats here.

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