Noel Whelan believes Leeds United’s Ezgjan Alioski is better suited to playing as a defender than as a winger.
The ex-player-turned-pundit has revealed he gets frustrated with the Macedonia international’s performances when he is utilised further up the pitch and believes Marcelo Bielsa’s side benefits a lot more when he plays as a wing-back.
Speaking to Football Insider, Whelan said: “I can only see Alioski playing one position, I don’t see him as a winger, I just don’t. I think there are better players and better wingers there than Alioski.
“I don’t see enough of a winger in him, I think he’s better as a wing-back so that’s the challenge there this season, is who’s going to keep that role. He’s frustrating, drives me up the wall. When he is a winger he gets caught offside too much, when he has the chance to put in a decent ball, he doesn’t put it in the right areas.”
Alioski appears to have gone backwards during his time at Elland Road as when he first arrived, he told the club’s official website that he likes to play further forward and ‘like to score goals’ – something he appears to have backed up with the 14 to his name in his 95 appearances to date (Transfermarkt).
The 27-year-old admitted back in March that he was enjoying playing in a new position under Bielsa, as he felt he could still get forward and be given the attacking responsibility he thrives upon.
Speaking to Blue Win, he said: “I can play at the front on the wings, now I play at left-back. But with Marcelo Bielsa, you’re not just a left-back, you also have to attack at the front. He trusts me, so we can set up with another offensive player. I feel comfortable in my new position and goals and assists come to me.”
However, Whelan obviously does not see the Macedonian as an effective option in the final third and believes Alioski is better suited at the back.
Although, that statement should not really surprise anyone, as the 27-year-old did start his playing career as a left-back for BSC Young Boys’ second team after all.
Indeed, it would also appear as though the stats would back up Whelan’s comments regarding how frustrating he can be going forward and what he contributes.
According to the data WhoScored collected last season, Alioski made an average of 4.4 inaccurate crosses per game, with just 1.4 finding a team-mate every 90 minutes, whilst he was also caught offside 0.7 times in the previous campaign.
With Barry Douglas having started both Championship games so far (Transfermarkt) and Jack Harrison getting the opportunity on the left of midfield, the 27-year-old could find his place in the team under threat – something that might please Whelan going forward.
Leeds fans, do you share the same frustrations as Whelan regarding Alioski? Let us know your thoughts by sharing them in the comments section below!
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