Why Leeds United should try and win the race for Daniel Ayala
According to claims from TEAMtalk, as relayed by Teesside Live, Leeds United have been credited with an interest in Middlesbrough defender Daniel Ayala, who is out of contract at the Riverside Stadium next summer.
Now, as per the report, with Boro struggling at the wrong end of the table in the Championship and the financial situation far from ideal, the Teessiders could be forced to cash in on some of the soon-to-be out-of-contract stars in January.
Leeds United are monitoring the centre-back’s situation closely while Fulham and Stoke City are also keen to get their hands on the experienced Spaniard. (TEAMtalk h/t Teesside Live)
Ayala spent seven years in the youth system at Sevilla in his homeland before completing a switch to Liverpool in 2007. The Spaniard made only five first-team appearances for the Reds and was farmed out on loan to Derby County and Hull City after struggling to make the grade at Anfield.
An ill-fated spell at Norwich City saw him make only 7 appearances in the Premier League, with Ayala spending time on loan at Nottingham Forest and Middlesbrough in the Championship before completing a permanent transfer to the Riverside Stadium in 2014.
The Spaniard hasn’t looked back since then and has gone on to establish himself as one of the mainstays of Boro’s backline over the past seven seasons, scoring 22 goals in 205 appearances across all competitions.
The former Spanish U21 international has retained his role as a regular starter at the back under Jonathan Woodgate but with the 29-year-old’s contract set to expire next summer, his long-term future at Teesside is far from settled.
To put things into perspective, an experienced campaigner like Daniel Ayala could be a useful signing for any of the aforementioned Championship clubs but Leeds United should try to have the final say in this January transfer saga in a bid to add some much-needed depth to their backline.
The Whites brought in Ben White on loan from Brighton and Hove Albion in the summer, following the sale of Pontus Jansson to Brentford.
However, a permanent deal for the loanee might well be beyond the financial prowess of the West Yorkshire giants, unless, of course, they manage to secure promotion to the top-flight.
The centre-back pairing of White and Liam Cooper has been instrumental in Leeds achieving an overly impressive defensive record.
Kalvin Phillips is more than capable of playing as a central defender and notwithstanding the fact that the academy star recently penned a long-term deal at Elland Road, Leeds could find it difficult to keep hold of him for too long, with Man United vying for his signature. (via Football Insider h/t Sun)
Plus, with Gaetano Berardi already 31 and out of contract next summer, Leeds should look to dip into the market for another experienced centre-back, despite having highly-rated youngsters like Pascal Struijk and Leif Davis in their ranks.
Daniel Ayala, who is a veteran of over 200 games for Middlesbrough and boasts of considerable top-flight experience in his CV, certainly fits the bill perfectly at Elland Road.
Although he might not be the best possible option for the Whites if they secure a return to the Premier League, the 29-year-old could still add a lot of quality depth to the ranks.
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With that in mind, Leeds United beating off competition for the Spaniard in January would make perfect sense and this looks like a move that could pay off handsomely for Bielsa.