The rumours were hot and all over the place as Leeds United were looking to reunite with former Swansea City defender Kyle Bartley in the summer. The English defender had a fruitful loan spell at Elland Road in the 2016-17 campaign where he gave a good account of himself. His commitment, desire and passion for the club made the fans feel that Bartley would be the perfect leader for them at the back. However, West Bromwich Albion got a deal for him in the summer and many of the United faithful thought they missed an opportunity to strengthen their defence.
However, from the pieces of evidence of the first few games of the season, it seems like the Whites might have dodged a bullet. He wasn’t going to come in cheap, and it is reported that the Baggies got him for £4m. Along with that, there were also rumours that United would have to make him their highest wage earner in the current squad to lure him. Now they must be glad that they avoided such a costly mistake in the summer.
Bartley so far has played every minute of the Championship for his side but has looked far from assured in defence. Last game, he gave away a poor penalty in the box where his arms were way over his head. Apart from that, the 27-year-old has often looked at sixes and sevens, and he seems like a shadow of the player which United saw just a few seasons back.
Bartley is known to be a natural leader at the back, and even though he wasn’t regular for Swansea often, he was given the captain’s armband on few occasions. However, the defender needs to sort his game out first this season before he can take upon leadership duties in the Baggies defence.
On the other hand, the Whites have looked relatively assured at the back, and new manager Marcelo Bielsa played a masterstroke by getting Gaetano Berardi to play in the centre back role even though he is naturally a right back. Even Kalvin Phillips looks good to play in the heart of defence and United would be happy that they didn’t sign a player who seems to be on a decline at the moment.
It’s still early days in the season, and maybe Bartley can go on to get his act together as the season progresses, but he is clearly looking like an accident waiting to happen. The way Whites build from the back currently surely would not have suited the 27-year-old defender’s game, and as of now, it seems like the West Yorkshire outfit made the right call by not chasing Bartley in the summer.
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