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Leeds: Luke Ayling never planned to leave Whites

Leeds: Luke Ayling never planned to leave Whites - Follow up

Leeds United stalwart Luke Ayling was never planning on leaving Elland Road during the summer transfer window, journalist Dean Jones has claimed.

The Lowdown: Ayling a modern hero

The 31-year-old has been one of the Whites’ most loyal and consistent players in recent years, rising through the divisions and helping return to the Premier League.

Earlier this week, the Englishman signed an automatic extension on his current deal, meaning he should now stay until the end of the 2023/24 season.

The Latest: No summer exit planned

Speaking to Give Me Sport, transfer expert Jones said Ayling never intended to leave Leeds this summer, such is his love for the club:

“He loves this club and he’s never had any intention of leaving. He is one of the leaders and they need players like him in the position that they’re in. Personally, I think it’s the right decision to be moving forward with someone like Ayling right now.

“You need players like that, especially at a time like this when the fans are going to be restless, to kind of be that middleman between the team, the management, the board and the fans.”

The Verdict: Great news for Leeds

Ayling has racked up over 200 appearances for Leeds since arriving from Bristol City in 2016, and while he hasn’t always been first choice right-back this season, he still has plenty of league outings to his name.

While Ayling isn’t necessarily quite the player he once was, considering he turns 32 this year, adding the extra year to his contract makes complete sense.

The £35,000-a-week defender knows Leeds inside out and continues to provide defensive tenacity and attacking quality, averaging 2.2 tackles per game in the league this season.

Ayling will likely have to accept that he will be a squad player from now on but he is still extremely useful, with journalist Phil Hay saying he has ‘properly found himself’ again in recent weeks.

His experience will be vital in these remaining months of the season, as Leeds battle relegation, and his leadership in the dressing room will be huge.

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