Sereyo Bekkink is a law student, football fan and journalist. He has a keen eye for talent and writes about them in the Dutch language on his website Tempohopper. Here on TPA you will find the English version of these articles.
This week's U21 Talent:
Name: David Brooks
Age: 21 ( 8 July 1997)
Position: Attacking midfielder / Right winger
Height: 1.73 m
8 years of hard work in the youth academy of Manchester City to not get a contract offer from that club. That’s what happened to David Brooks when he was 16. Nearly 4 years later, David Brooks is wanted by almost the entire Premier League top 6, including Manchester City. Yes, Manchester City is competing for a player that got cut out of their academy because he was “too small.” Here’s the story of a boy who, regardless of his small posture, kept fighting for a career as a professional footballer and now shines in the Premier League at AFC Bournemouth.
David Brooks started playing football at the age of 4 at his local team Woolston Rovers. From the moment he started, till his breakthrough at Sheffield United people pointed out his poor developed physique. After getting scouted by Manchester City at a young age, Brooks played in the academy for 8 years. When he was 9 years old he was still wearing the kit that was meant to be for 7 years old, because he would literally trip over the kit that was meant to be for 9 years old.
But where he was physically behind, technically he was so far behind his teammates. Despite his poor physique, Brooks had a great balance, technical ability to control the ball and with his left foot, he was able to place the ball where ever he wanted.
But breaking through at Manchester City was not possible for Brooks. The summer before he left, Manchester City bought Fernandinho for 38 pounds, and the summer after that they bought another 3 midfielders for 21 pounds each. Leaving Manchester City was a big blow for Brooks, but he was determined to succeed as a football player and he just saw leaving Manchester City as the next step to reach that goal.
The search for a new team was very hard. Again, people doubted the physique abilities of Brooks. Bolton Wanderers rejected Brooks because he would be “too small.” Brooks did not have an agent at this time, and this made the search for a new team even harder. Brooks later told about the rejection of Bolton Wanderers that is was not the best scenario, but it made him the person he is today.
Sheffield United on the other hand, at that time a league 1 team, trusted enough on Brooks’ technical capabilities to offer him a contract. The situation at Sheffield United couldn’t be more different than the situation at Manchester United. Sheffield United did not belong in League 1, and promotion was a must. On first sight, a club that needs direct results does not seem like the club that gives youth players a lot of chances.
Despite the need for short-term success, Brooks got chances to play in the first team. Manager Chris Wilder played a big part in this. Wilder is a manager who prefers to play nice attacking football. He likes technical football more than physical football. Under his lead, Sheffield United is currently competing in the Championship for promotion to the Premier League.
His debut in the EFL Trophy game against Leicester City -23 in 2016 was the reward for the courage Brooks showed by taking a big step down without any assurances that it would work out.
After his debut, Brooks managed to get more playing minutes in the first team of Sheffield United and at the end of the season, he could celebrate the promotion to the Championship with them. Regardless of that, Brooks never became a non-contentious first 11 player. Sheffield United was very careful with Brooks, because the lower leagues in England are really physical, and they did not want to rush Brooks into it.
In his last season at Sheffield United Brooks played 30 games, but he only started in 9 of those. Brooks only managed to get 3 goals and 5 assists in this season, but in his performances, he showed great technical ability which attracted lots of premier league clubs.
Last summer, Sheffield United sold Brooks to AFC Bournemouth for a reported fee of 11,5 million pounds. Brooks had multiple options but chose for AFC Bournemouth because he felt a connection with manager Eddie Howe. So far, it seems like Brooks made the right choice as he scored 6 goals and assisted 4 goals in 25 games in the Premier League.
Analyse David Brooks :
Even though Brooks improved his physique a lot since getting sent away from the Manchester City academy, it’s quite an understatement that he still can’t quite rely on his physique. But with his lightly built body, he’s really agile and he can turn away from his opponents real quick. A good example of Brooks’ ability to pass by an opponent without much space is the nutmeg he gave Jack Hunt in the Steel City derby. This action also shows that even though Brooks is much lighter than his opponent, he really uses his body well and that helps him a lot.
The biggest asset of Brooks is his extremely precise passing ability with his left foot. Furthermore, his finesse shot with his left foot is also a huge asset of Brooks.
One element in which Brooks can improve is the use of his right foot. Currently, he only plays simple passes with it, but his crosses with his right foot are not good enough yet. Given his current position on the right wing, it’s important that Brooks is also able to cross with his right foot. This will cause defenders more problems because Brooks is then more unpredictable.
Expectation Seréyo Bekkink:
Brooks currently plays most of his games at Bournemouth from the right wing, but once Brooks develops a little bit more stamina he should be able to shine on the “number 10” position. Brooks already got the technical ability and the vision for it.
Do you wanna judge Brooks yourself? Check some of his highlights below!