- Djed Spence’s arrival at Leeds could give Daniel Farke a licence to ditch an underperforming player.
- A £20k-per-week earner, it could be the end of the road for one of the club’s longest-serving players.
- He’s been ‘awful’ at times over the last 18 months or so of action.
Leeds United haven’t exactly had the greatest of openings to the 2023/24 campaign following their relegation from the Premier League.
Daniel Farke will be aiming to guide the club straight back to the promised land, yet with only one win from four Championship ties, plus a woeful penalty shootout defeat to Salford City in the League Cup, the pressure is on the former Norwich City boss.
Summer arrivals include Joel Piroe, Ethan Ampadu, and Glen Kamara, indicating that there is no shortage of quality in the team, yet Farke must ditch a few players who have underperformed of late, with one being defender Luke Ayling.
Why hasn’t Luke Ayling been playing well?
Having joined the Elland Road outfit in the summer of 2016, the 32-year-old has made over 250 appearances while playing a key part in the team which secured promotion to the Premier League during the 2019/20 season.
Despite his service to the club, it’s clear that the £20k-per-week liability hasn’t been at his best recently, especially during the 2022/23 campaign which saw the club relegated from the top flight.
The right-back ranked in a lowly 20th position across the squad for overall Sofascore rating (6.6), while ranking 11th for accurate passes (20.8), sixth for tackles (2.3) and 11th for interceptions (0.9) per game as Leeds conceded 78 goals, the highest total in the Premier League.
Journalist Tomi Oladipo even claimed that “Ayling has been awful for a long time but…sentiment.” as recently as March, indicating just how poor he had been in the months prior.
With Farke signing Tottenham Hotspur defender Djed Spence on a season-long loan deal, could Ayling’s time at the club be coming to an end sooner rather than later?
What could Djed Spence offer Leeds United?
The 23-year-old joined Spurs for £20m last summer following an excellent spell at Nottingham Forest, helping them reach the top flight for the first time this century, yet his spell in London was a disaster.
He started zero matches for the club, coming on as a substitute just six times and was swiftly sent on loan to French side Rennes in January, where he played only ten games, and it’s evident that the move to Leeds could revitalise him.
He showcased his excellent attacking abilities during his spell at Forest, ranking in the top ten across the squad for goals and assists (eight), fifth for big chances created (five), sixth for key passes per game (one) and third for successful dribbles per game (1.8), and these attributes could give Farke an added attacking option from defence.
In comparison, Ayling ranked seventh for goals and assists (four), fifth for big chances created (four), 14th for key passes per game (0.5) and third for successful dribbles per game (0.9) during that same campaign, indicating that Spence would be an upgrade, certainly from an attacking viewpoint anyway.
Farke should be making Spence his first-choice right-back and although Ayling has started the season well, scoring once and grabbing an assist, some fresh talent could ensure the manager finally gives his ageing full-back the boot.