I remember social media when Leeds finalised the deal for Luke Ayling. One particular tweet stood out to me from a Sheffield Wednesday fan who said along the lines of. (Look at Leeds scraping the barrel for Luke Ayling and us signing Steven Fletcher). Steven Fletcher? No thanks, the £1 million or just less spent on Ayling is without doubt the best money spent in this league this season.
“Why do we need another right-back?” That was the question that was asked time and time again in the summer. On Friday night we played all three. Lewie Coyle at right back (3rd choice), Gaetano Berardi at left back (2nd choice) and Luke Ayling at centre back (1st choice). There are different aspects to a brilliant signing. The ability of the player, what he brings to the changing room, the wages they sign for and the transfer fee. Is Ross McCormack worth £12 million? Never. Luke Ayling is the best signing in the league in my opinion, because he ticks every box.
Ability wise he has it all. Great on the ball, powerful, strong in the air, defensively sound. He has also brought a breath of fresh air to the club. An example was after the game on Friday night. He parted from the rest of the team and began a stroll (something that you’d more likely see Bullard do) towards the South Stand. Not only was it entertaining but that’s the sort of enjoyment I haven’t seen players have in a while at Leeds United. Characters play a huge part in dressing rooms and the signing of Luke Ayling seems to have brought an energy to the dressing room at Elland Road.
The fee was reported to be between 800k and £1 million. When I did my “Fan View” of Luke Ayling with a Bristol City supporters page they were convinced we were getting someone who would give 100% but wasn’t really someone who would progress much from where he was. That seems an age ago, Luke Ayling performing game after game after game and probably making the easiest case of being the best right-back in the league. I can’t think of anyone who could really compete for being a better right back to be honest. The recruitment in the summer has been wonderful and Ayling optimises everything we are currently about.
Garry Monk was so right in his pursuit of another right back, Ayling has been a revelation at the football club. He has become Mr Reliable and brings so much more than just your average right back.