Why Leeds United should offer Ezgjan Alioski a new deal
Leeds United have made a promising start to life in the Championship this term after falling agonisingly short in their pursuit of promotion in the previous campaign.
Marcelo Bielsa has transformed the West Yorkshire giants into strong promotion contenders over the past twelve months or so and, while the Whites blew away a golden chance to make a much-awaited return to the Premier League last time around, the fans should be happy with how the team has responded in the early stages of the ongoing campaign.
Indeed, there have been plenty of positives from Leeds United’s start to the season, ranging from the positive impact made by the arrival of new loanees like Ben White and Eddie Nketiah to Patrick Bamford’s resurgence in front of goal and the club’s youth recruitment policy to bolster their academy with emerging prospects from across the globe.
As well as that, the club’s drive to secure the long-term futures of some of the first-team mainstays with new contracts has also caught the eye and the fans at Elland Road have every reason to look forward to better things in the days to come, with Kalvin Phillips, Stuart Dallas and Liam Cooper all putting pen to paper on fresh terms.
A new deal for Mateusz Klich is also understood to be in the pipeline, as confirmed by the player himself, and, overall, Leeds should be proud of their efforts to keep hold of some of their prized first-team assets.
To that end, the fans are well within their rights to expect some of the other key players to commit their futures to the club in the coming weeks and Ezgjan Alioski should be one of the first names on that list.
The 27-year-old Macedonian international, who arrived at Elland Road from Swiss top-tier club FC Lugano back in the summer of 2017, has taken his game to new heights under the watchful eyes of Bielsa, establishing himself as one of the first names on the Argentine’s teamsheet.
Alioski initially came through the door at Leeds United as an out-and-out left-winger but he has been successfully transformed into a left-back by the manager due to Barry Douglas’ struggles with injuries, much like Stuart Dallas, who also arrived at the club as a winger but has been converted into a right-back or a wing-back.
The Macedonian seems to have adapted seamlessly to his new role at the club, while also adding a lot more to his repertoire of skills, thanks to Bielsa’s incredible ability to maximize the potential of the existing players in the squad.
Alioski, who contributed with 7 goals and 5 assists in 44 Championship outings the last term, has already hit the ground running in the ongoing campaign, with the versatile Macedonian scoring a goal and coming away with a man-of-the-match display in the 3-0 victory over Stoke City before the international break.
His tally of 15 goals and 11 assists in 99 appearances for the Whites in all competitions might not look eye-watering on paper but the 27-year-old deserves a lot of credit for coming out of his comfort zone to play in unfamiliar positions during periods of crisis.
To put things into perspective, Bielsa seems to favour players who can offer cover in multiple areas of the pitch and given that Ezgjan Alioski has proven his versatility over a sustained period of time, Leeds should make it a top priority to secure his long-term future at the club.
The 27-year-old has a contract until the summer of 2021 but, with other clubs always on the lookout for utility players in the market, the Whites should be wise enough to tie him down to fresh terms.
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To conclude, a new contract for the Macedonian makes perfect sense for a number of reasons and it would be a pleasant surprise if Leeds already have one in the pipeline for him.