Luke Ayling has been an important figure at Leeds United since arriving in 2016 from Bristol City.
Leeds brought Ayling in for a relatively low fee of just £200,000 and he has been worth every penny, helping the club win promotion to the Premier League and then secure three flights of top-flight football.
The 31-year-old has made 228 appearances, scoring eight goals and registering a further 19 assists from right-back.
- 1 Read more on LeedsAllOver
- 2 Pro: carry through Drameh
- 3 Do you think Ayling will be at Leeds next season?
- 4 Cons: The senior depth is gone
- 5 Pro: A potential fee
- 6 Con – Force Leeds into the market
Read more on LeedsAllOver
However, for the first time since Ayling’s arrival, real competition for his place at full-back has arrived at the club under Jesse Marsch in the form of Rasmus Kristensen.
That has left Ayling starting just one Premier League game this season, racking up 154 minutes in total.
Furthermore, Ayling is out of contract at Leeds in the summer, with a report from TEAMtalk this week suggesting the right-back is attracting interest, although there is another suggestion the Elland Road outfit are not enough deep to let it go. in January
We explore the pros and cons of Leeds letting Ayling leave in the New Year here:
Pro: carry through Drameh
BRENTFORD, ENGLAND – SEPTEMBER 3: Rico Henry of Brentford is challenged by Cody Drameh of Leeds United during the Premier League match between Brentford FC and Leeds United at Brentford Community Stadium on September 03, 2022 in Brentford, England. (Photo by Tom Dulat/Getty Images)
Ayling isn’t the only right-back struggling at Leeds right now, with Drameh struggling for minutes after a superb loan spell with Cardiff City last season.
The 20-year-old has started just two games in all competitions this season and, according to the Daily Mail, is on the radar of Newcastle United and Borussia Dortmund.
As things stand, he is third choice at Leeds, but should Ayling leave, he would be pushed into direct competition from Kristensen, which could tempt him to reject that rival interest and try to break him out at Leeds.
Do you think Ayling will be at Leeds next season?
Cons: The senior depth is gone
On the other hand, Ayling is 31 years old and has a wealth of experience, with two years of Premier League football under his belt.
Kristensen is new to the division and has taken time to adjust, while Drameh is raw and will make mistakes if given too much to do too soon.
Ayling is the kind of character and figure you want in the squad, while he’s the kind of ideal deputy we’ve been dreaming of for a couple of seasons, naturally evolving the squad and giving Marsch a selection headache.
If he leaves, there will be a huge void to fill in terms of depth of experience on the roster.
Pro: A potential fee
LEEDS, ENGLAND – OCTOBER 2: Leeds’ player Luke Ayling wearing a protective face mask takes a point during the Premier League match between Leeds United and Aston Villa at Elland Road on October 2, 2022 in Leeds, England. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)
Should Leeds move Ayling in January, it would give them the chance to recoup a fee for the right-back before his contract expires.
Ayling doesn’t owe Leeds anything and has been good value for money during his time at the club, but you shouldn’t turn your nose up at a club at the top end of the Championship by throwing a couple of million in the way of the 31 years…old
That could buy you a young fullback for the academy to fill the spot Drameh would leave behind to step up.
Con – Force Leeds into the market
January is a nightmare window to deal with and anyone from Leeds will tell you that.
If Ayling leaves, Leeds could find themselves looking for a new right-back, with absolutely no guarantee that Drameh will stick around and want to stay; we know all about his desire to play first-team football from the way he moved to Cardiff at the start of 2022.
Leeds, then, could be on the hook for Kristensen’s cover in the new year, which is surely something they hadn’t planned for after arming themselves with three very good right-back options.
They can’t let that distract them from the striker and left-back they need.
Luke Ayling’s Big Updated Quiz: Can Leeds United Fans Score 20/20?
Did Ayling make any appearances for Arsenal?