Luke Ayling facing defining spell in Leeds career
When Luke Ayling smashed a goal of the season contender in at Old Trafford on the opening day of the campaign, it appeared that the Leeds United star was ready to pick up where he left off last term.
Like several others, Ayling was outstanding in his first year in the Premier League. He was one who emphatically silenced those who doubted whether those in the Whites’ Championship squad could make the step up.
Unfortunately, Leeds have struggled since the moment Ayling rifled the ball past David De Gea to put Marcelo Bielsa’s side back on level terms.
They have gone behind in all four games they have played. So far, they have battled back to take two points.
And Ayling is arguably one of those yet to find his best form. In fact, his campaign can perhaps be best summed up by the moment he kneed a brilliant chance over the bar against Liverpool.
After the clash with Burnley, some suggested that Jamie Shackleton should get a chance ahead of Ayling on the right.
The 30-year-old has bounced back from difficult periods in the past. However, it feels somewhat strange because Ayling has been so good for some time.
Ayling sees current Leeds contract expire in 2023
The problem Ayling potentially has now however, is that his current contract expires in less than two years.
If he rediscovers his best form, it will be a no-brainer to hand him fresh terms. He is also one of the leaders within the Elland Road dressing room.
But at some stage, Leeds will need to weigh up whether they want to hand Ayling a deal that will potentially tie him down until his mid-thirties.
If his current struggles are nothing more than a blip, that decision should be easy.
And in truth, he is more than good enough to get back on track and extend his stay.
But there is no question that he is one of those with a point to prove after Leeds’ difficult start – particularly with a crucial decision on his future set to be taken at some stage in the next couple of years.
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