Two years ago, Kyle Hulme wrote this fan's view on Bryam and as Everton look at signing the Leeds youngster, it still applies today...
Sam Byram: A Leeds Fan On Everton's Latest Target...
When the Football League Awards winners for the Championship were announced, there was a consensus around the country that the winners were good choices - more than able candidates who deserved their awards.
Except for in Yorkshire.
For the folk beyond the Pennines, there was a feeling that one of their own deserved the award, someone who had dealt with Messrs Vydra, Ince, Zaha and even a certain Gareth Bale in his first season of professional football. That man is Sam Byram.
I first saw Sam Byram play in the league cup against Shrewsbury Town - the first competitive game of the season - where he replaced an injured Tom Lees and since then on I, like many other Leeds fans, was convinced of his ability. For a young player he possessed such confidence, a supple first touch and a joie de vivre usually expected of La Masia graduates rather than those playing in Beeston. Fortunately, these characteristics have remained throughout the course of the season.
As an attacking fullback, he has the tools and potential to reach the very top of the game. Not only does he have the ability to go forward, beat a man and actually have an end product, he has the maturity of those much older to know when cover, when to attack and when to hold. He also has a goal in him, too, scoring four times this season including a sensational move against Oxford which was shortlisted for the Goal of the Season award at the Football League Awards. As previously mentioned, he effectively nullified Gareth Bale and Aaron Lennon in the cup when they came to Elland Road, something that the majority of defenders in the Premiership have failed to do as the 19-year-old ever-present fullback continues to turn heads.
And turn heads he has.
If the tabloid papers are anything to go by, then the potential suitors for Byram are endless. Liverpool, Everton, Wigan, Stoke, West Bromwich Albion and even Manchester City have been mentioned, where a red-top announced that he is seen as a long-term replacement for Pablo Zabaletta. One paper has quoted a figure in the region of £8m; whilst that is a considerable chunk of cash and enough to buy several players who could chase promotion with Leeds next season, such a sale would be heartbreaking. Leeds fans have had to endure the sales of Delph, Snodgrass, Gradel, Howson, Becchio and other favourites in recent years, and there is a growing sense that selling a rough, irreplaceable diamond such as Byram would be the straw that broke the camel’s back.
On a professional level, such a move would be bad for Byram, too. Too often have we seen bright young things leave regular football for the dizzy heights of the Premiership before seeing their development and career stall. At Leeds, Byram will see regular football in front of decent crowds. Should Leeds not gain promotion in the next couple of years, this will environment will be crucial if he chooses to leave for a better team. Fortunately, Sam signed a contract extension until 2016 in January, in a bid to secure his services and to deter other clubs.
Despite his obvious talent, there is still a rawness to his game. He has given away penalties this season and sometimes a rare lapse of composure has seen him give the ball away - most notably against Cardiff, where a hooked overhead clearance led to a goal (if you’re superstitious, look away now; Matthew Kilgallon, another former Leeds youngster, also made a mistake against Cardiff which led to a loss, before moving on to the Premier League a few weeks later...).
Though Byram should not be chastised too much. These are rare faults and faults from the exuberance of youth rather than a lack of ability in an otherwise faultless season. Brian McDermott has inherited a squad- in a similar fashion to David O’Leary - that has a cusp of talented young players waiting in the wings. Luke Parkin, Lewis Walters and Eric Grimes have all signed professional contracts this season, and Leeds also have Wales U21’s midfielder Chris Dawson, a player who looks very, very talented.
Hopefully for Leeds, Byram will continue to flourish and grow into the player we all know he is capable of being. And you never know, he just might do it in a white shirt...