Nigel Martyn has told The Boot Room that he would like to see Gjanni Alioski handed a new contract at Leeds United after the left-footer entered the final year of his current deal – while also heaping praise on Illan Meslier and Mateusz Klich.
Alioski, 28, joined Leeds for £2million (YEP) in the summer of 2017 – penning a four-year deal with the Yorkshire club. That contract is set to end in June, but remains a crucial part of the Leeds side.
The Macedonia international came into the Leeds side for his second start of the Premier League campaign, impressing on the left side of the Leeds defence – keeping Trezeguet quiet. He is a fan favourite largely thanks to his hilarious antics.
Whether it is shaking the tunnel before a match, applauding an empty stadium or his strange behaviour in front of the LUTV camera, Alioski is clearly a character and an influence in the dressing room. Martyn feels he deserves a new deal.
“Personally I’d like to see him there, he is a little bit off the wall,” Martyn told The Boot Room. “I think the squad like that he is a little bit crazy and he does some funny things around the place – those characters are important. He deserves another contract.
“It depends on how much game time he gets and then, what he wants to do. If he is not in the starting 11, is he then going to get frustrated? It is a two-way street. Less opportunity might mean he wants to move, no player should be blamed for that.
“See how the season goes, for both parties. If he does play regularly, then both parties should sit down and say let’s carry on.”
Alioski was one of many Leeds players to impress against Aston Villa, with young goalkeeper Meslier performing well again to keep his second Premier League clean sheet. He made two excellent stops to deny Jack Grealish and Ezri Konsa.
Meslier was bought for just £5million (Telegraph) from Lorient after initially impressing on loan last term. At 20 years of age, he would be forgiven for some nervousness, but the France Under-20 international has shown much the opposite.
Meanwhile, Klich continues to prove a crucial part of Bielsa’s side – laying on an assist once again on Friday for Bamford’s second goal. Martyn commented on both Klich and Meslier, labelling the latter as an “absolute steal.”
“I’m a fan of Klich in midfield, the energy he brings to the team,” Martyn continued. “One moment he is breaking things up on the end of your box and 25 seconds later he is playing the ball through on the edge of the other area. He’s impressed. I like Klich, probably him if anyone [unsung hero].”
On Meslier, Martyn said: “He’s a steal, he looks good business, I like his temperament. In times gone by, he would’ve been tested out, balls under the bar. Goalkeepers were protected a bit more in my era than the past, and they’re protected even more so now.
“He has a really calm head. He outwardly projects that he is in control of what is going on and that is a great sign. Given that he is so young, there could be mistakes around the corner – hopefully not. If that does happen, I hope they stick with him.
“He is showing confidence with his feet and he is not frightened to play 30, 40-yard passes which is something I couldn’t have done in my time! He’s had a great start and long may it continue.”
TBR’s view – Should Alioski get a new contract?
The loan exit of Barry Douglas to Blackburn, which is expected to become permanent next summer when the Scot’s Leeds deal expires, leaves Leeds a player down on the left side of defence. Stuart Dallas remains first choice, with Alioski a close second.
But for Bielsa, Alioski is a crucial member of the side. He offers versatility, something which Bielsa loves in his players. Not only that, but Alioski is now one of the longer-serving players in the side, and as Martyn states – he is a big influence.
Still only 28, Alioski at least deserves a contract at Elland Road to keep him at the club into his early thirties. Whether Leeds do sit at the table and keep Alioski – or Alioski is willing to extend the contract himself – remains to be seen.
Speaking to LeedsUnited.News, Martyn spoke about a potential move for Todd Cantwell and compared Robin Koch to Ben White.