Leeds United continued their string of recent contracts by agreeing a four-year deal with Luke Ayling, extending his previous deal by a further two years until the summer of 2023 – but have they made a mistake?
Ayling, 28, joined Leeds in the summer of 2016 from Bristol City for £750,000 (Mail) and has since clocked up 116 appearances in all competitions. He has become one of the leaders in the side, and is now in his fourth season.
He has become renowned as one of the best right-backs in the division, but with Leeds looking to gain promotion to the Premier League this time around – was offering Ayling a four-year deal the right decision?
There is no doubt that Ayling is an important part of Bielsa’s side, and has remained a crucial part of the team since the Argentine took over. He is more than adept in the Championship, but is untested at Premier League level.
Ayling is certainly a decent player, but whether he could make it in the Premier League remains to be seen. He will be 29 at the start of next season, and if he is to finally play in the top tier, this is his last chance.
But to offer him a deal until he is 32 years of age, when Leeds will have hoped to be back in the Premier League for a couple of seasons, raises question marks. Have Leeds given the defender too long a deal?
The likes of Vurnon Anita remained on the books until the summer, when he was finally released. The versatile ex-Newcastle ace was given a long-term deal, but he struggled and instead of leaving, he rotted in the reserves on big money.
If Leeds gain promotion to the Premier League and buy a new, better right-back than Ayling, could the former Bristol City star do the same? Giving him a four-year deal makes that option possible.