Why Leeds United should move quickly to secure Stuart Dallas‘ future
Having fallen agonisingly short in pursuit of a much-awaited promotion to the top-flight last season, Leeds United have once again made a solid start to the ongoing campaign, with the Whites laying down an early marker with their impressive displays in the opening stages of the 2019-20 season.
Despite suffering a narrow 1-0 defeat at the hands of Swansea City in the last game heading into the international break, the West Yorkshire giants still sit 3rd in the standings with 4 wins out of 6.
Indeed, Leeds have put all the hangover of last season’s failures behind them and it might be too early to make a call but the Whites definitely look strong promotion contenders, if not, the favourites, going by their performances thus far this term.
Managed by the legendary Marcelo Bielsa, the Whites have a perfect blend of youth and experience in their ranks and the club’s summer recruitment drive to bring in players like Eddie Nketiah, Ben White and Helder Costa on loan has enriched their squad even further, despite established stars like Pontus Jansson and Kemar Roofe departing Elland Road.
Much to the pleasure of the fans at Elland Road, Leeds United grabbed the headlines during the international break with a lucrative new contract for star midfielder Kalvin Phillips.
The highly-rated academy product, who hit great heights in the Championship last season, looked poised to earn a move to the Premier League earlier in the summer but the fresh contract should go a long way towards helping the Yorkshire outfit ward off any potential suitors for their prized asset in the near future.
Phillips, though, wasn’t the only one who was in the last year of his contract prior to the start of the season, with mainstays like Pablo Hernandez, Mateusz Klich, as well as utility star Stuart Dallas, also very much a part of the list.
With that in mind, Leeds should now turn their attention to extending the contracts of the other players on that list and, while Dallas might not be a regular starter like Klich and Hernandez, they can hardly afford to leave the Northern Irishman out of their plans, regardless of which division they find themselves at the end of the season.
Dallas was only a bit-part player at Leeds United ever since his move from Brentford back in 2015 but the 28-year-old has really come to the fore this term, with Marcelo Bielsa’s influence instrumental in transforming him from a natural winger into a wing-back or a full-back.
With first-choice right-back Luke Ayling on the treatment table, Bielsa has relied heavily on Dallas to fill in as a full-back on either side of the pitch, while also using the Northern Irishman as a wing-back on either side as a part of a tactical switch to a back-three system.
The 28-year-old has started each of Leeds’ six fixtures in the Championship thus far, adapting seamlessly to unfamiliar defensive roles on either flank, while also proving with his performances that he has improved vastly as a player under the Argentine boss.
To put things into perspective, it should be an absolute no-brainer for Leeds United to offer Stuart Dallas a new deal before the end of the season.
The 28-year-old has proven himself to be a utility squad player under Bielsa and his versatility to play as a natural winger, wing-back and also a full-back on both sides of the pitch certainly continues to be an indispensable asset to the Whites.
A player perfectly suited to Bielsa’s tactics, Dallas is not only capable of chipping in with valuable goals and assists but he is also adept at troubling the opposition with his quick feet, work rate and intelligent movement down the flanks, thus contributing equally in terms of attack and defence.
Also, it is easy to see that the 28-year-old’s presence in the squad allows Bielsa to switch effectively to a relatively unfamiliar back-three system, further epitomising his value to the manager’s team dynamics.
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All in all, Dallas looks capable of playing a key role for the club in the years to come and Leeds should move quickly to sort out his future at the club.