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Leeds United: Noel Whelan being ‘won over’ by Ezgjan Alioski in new left-back role

Leeds United: Noel Whelan being ‘won over’ by Ezgjan Alioski in new left-back role

Ezgjan Alioski is winning over former Leeds United striker Noel Whelan in his more defensive role.

The Macedonian international has been utilised as a left-back this season by Marcelo Bielsa, as opposed to his regular position as a winger.

After dropping recognised left-back Barry Douglas, Whelan believes that the Argentine turned to Alioski as he feels he offers more of a threat going forward, which is something that Bielsa likes from his full-backs.

Speaking to Football Insider following Leeds’ midweek victory against West Brom, Whelan said: “He’s winning me over. He still needs to really work on his positioning and tackling. He goes to ground too easily and is a bit reckless. He’s been a calamity at times.

“Barry Douglas is a better defender, but Alioski is better going forward. The way Bielsa plays – on the front foot – ability going forward is more important to him.

“Bielsa likes to get his full-backs nice and high, they’re almost wing-backs the way the team is set up. That suits Alioski, who can create and score goals.”

It is interesting to hear Whelan suggesting that Alioski is superior to Douglas in terms of attacking ability. After all, the Scotsman did rack up an impressive five goals and 14 assists from left-back for Wolves in the 2017/18 season (via TransferMarkt).

For whatever reason, moving to Leeds just hasn’t paid off for Douglas, and when you look at the stats, he has been outperformed by Alioski this season.

Indeed, the Macedonian comes out on top in terms of goals scored, having netted the match-winning goal against West Brom on Tuesday while also finding the back of the net against Stoke City (via Soccerbase). Douglas, by contrast, has failed to score so far this term.

Surprisingly, Alioski has also outperformed his teammate defensively. The 27-year-old averages more tackles, more interceptions and more clearances per match than the former Wolves man (via WhoScored).

Some of those stats are quite interesting, but it just goes to show that Bielsa is certainly making the right call in playing Alioski at left-back as opposed to Douglas.

Leeds fans, are you happy with Alioski at left-back? Or do you want to see Barry Douglas back in the team? Let us know in the comments below…

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