An “old-fashioned center-back” with the calming ability to step away from danger when in possession, you don’t find many emerging talents of the Taylor Harwood-Bellis nature these days.
Acquired on loan from Manchester City, the 19-year-old is now thriving after forging a fruitful partnership with Darragh Lenihan at the heart of the Blackburn Rovers defense.
“Since I was younger, I loved blocking the ball, directing the ball, it was one of my favorite activities,” he explained during his first appearance in the media in the colors of Rovers. .
“That’s what a defender does, keep the ball from going into the net and then all the technical stuff comes with it.”
Over the past few weeks, we’ve seen these distinguished qualities help Rovers limit the opposition to just four goals in six games, with four of those six appearing against the top six teams.
Ivan Toney and Andre Ayew demanded penalties to break through the Rovers’ defensive line while powerful Teemu Pukki was thwarted in the draw on Saturday.
Against Millwall, target man Matt Smith looked destined to score from close range. With the goal at his mercy and the ball falling nicely, Harwood-Bellis threw himself between Smith and Thomas Kaminski to force a corner. Like slashing a dramatic winner, the teenager erupted from the ground with an emphatic fist pump. It’s 1-0 in his mini-battle.
But it was not all easy for Harwood-Bellis. Rovers embarked on a seven-game winless streak after arriving, with the defender appearing in six of them. They’ve only won one in their last 12 outings, but there have been signs of improvement in the last few matches, especially from a defensive perspective and Harwood-Bellis has played a part in that with impressive performances against Bristol City, Norwich and Swansea.
His fitness journey has not gone unnoticed. For now, Harwood-Bellis is focused on the ongoing campaign with Rovers, but with Eric Garcia set to leave Manchester City for Barcelona this summer, a central defensive post has opened up in Pep Guardiola’s ranks. But with options like John Stones, Ruben Dias, Aymeric Laporte and Nathan Ake ahead of him, there is a distinct possibility of another loan deal next season.
Despite the platform Rovers provided him, if another loan opportunity were to arise, it likely wouldn’t be in the form of a championship transfer.
Brentford’s interest in the defender was signaled last week, with Thomas Frank’s side considering Premier League options if they were successful in their quest for promotion. Leeds United and Brighton join a growing list of clubs that have watched Harwood-Bellis, as there are reports of German attraction for his services.
Whether another loan deal is sanctioned will be determined by how he fares in the preseason and while Rovers have an outside chance to take over Harwood-Bellis, his success is another gem to hang on the tree. of the club’s loan market.
Harvey Elliott’s development reiterated the learning culture that has been implemented at the club and so has Harwood-Bellis, his evolution solidifying the club’s reputation for growing and improving players.
With Hayden Carter and Tyler Magloire both excelling on their respective loans, another central defensive option may not be necessary, but Harwood-Bellis’ success has given Rovers another head start in the market. loans, if they ever had to draw on them.