Gareth McAuley has been released by West Bromwich Albion after 7 years with the club. Scottish giants Rangers have been linked with a move for the defender, who is also on the radar of Aston Villa. Another club who should look at the prospect of signing McAuley are Leeds.
Now with Marcelo Bielsa at the helm, it remains to be seen which players Leeds will target this summer. Of course, it depends on the formation Bielsa is going to implement at Elland Road but either way, McAuley would be a valuable addition for the Whites.
Currently, Leeds have 4 centre-backs in their squad – Pontus Jansson, Liam Cooper, Paudie O’Connor and Conor Shaughnessy. While Jansson and Cooper are experienced, O’Connor and Shaughnessy are still just 20 and 21 years old.
Last season Leeds conceded 64 goals, the worst defensive record among the top 15 teams in the Championship. It’s clear that the Whites need to strengthen their defence in the summer, and McAuley could prove to be a great buy for the Yorkshire giants.
Despite his age, McAuley still has a lot to offer and moreover, he is available on a free transfer. The 38-year-old won’t be able to play every single match in a demanding league such as the Championship but he can provide valuable experience to the Leeds team.
McAuley is very tall which makes him exceptionally strong in the air. And because of his height, he’s dangerous in dead-ball situations. He was the Premier League’s highest-scoring defender in the 2016/17 campaign. McAuley has illustrated his qualities as a proficient goal scorer. In 522 appearances throughout his career, the experienced defender has scored a total of 42 goals – a very good record for someone who plays as a centre-back.
Also, his positioning sense is top notch and he can cover spaces. McAuley is quite fit and rarely has trouble with injuries. However, his lack of speed could be a problem for Leeds.
McAuley, who has played a total of 189 games in the Championship, can really help Leeds in their push for a top-six finish next season.