According to the reports from the Northern Echo, Leeds United will push for a January move for Middlesbrough’s defender Daniel Ayala. Ayala’s contract is expiring in the summer of 2020. It is believed that Ayala has long been of interest to Leeds United’s scouting department.
Ayala is termed as the best defender at Middlesbrough by some. The centre back started his career with Sevilla, but he went on to move to Liverpool in 2007 after the English heavyweights paid a compensation fee for him. The defender made just five appearances for Liverpool’s senior team, and he was shipped to Norwich City in 2011.
Ayala has been the mainstay at the back for Boro as he has made 15 appearances in the Championship this season. Last season, the Spanish defender made 39 appearances in all competitions scoring two goals as Boro missed out on the playoff spots narrowly. This season, things have turned worse for Middlesbrough as they are languishing on the 22nd spot on the table. Shockingly, as many as seven Boro players’ contracts will expire next summer including Ayala’s.
Leeds United, on the other hand, are challenging again for the direct promotion spots. The Whites have the best defensive record in the division right now as they have conceded just nine goals in 16 Championship games.
Does Leeds United need a defender?
The Whites have got three centre backs in the form of Ben White, Liam Cooper and Gaetano Berardi. Kalvin Phillips and Luke Ayling can also play at the back as makeshift options. However, some rumours have emerged that White could attract bid from the likes of Liverpool in January, which might tempt Brighton to sell him. However, we feel that White will likely stay at Elland Road as he is playing regularly under Bielsa.
Nevertheless, it cannot be ignored that the Whites can lose him as the parent club will have the final say on White’s future. So, in that case, Leeds United might need a new defender.
Is Ayala worth going after?
We don’t see how someone like Ayala will fit in Leeds United’s profile right now as he is already 29. Moreover, Boro have struggled to keep it tight at the back this season. The way Leeds United play, they need defenders who are calm and comfortable on the ball and Ayala is not someone who would fit into that philosophy. He has plenty of experience in the Championship and some in the Premier League as well, but Ayala wouldn’t be the right man for Bielsa.