Vurnon Anita leaves Leeds with a sense of what could have been

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This article is part of Football FanCast’s Opinion series, which provides analysis, insight and opinion on any issue within the beautiful game, from Paul Pogba’s haircuts to League Two relegation battles…

There is a curious case with Vurnon Anita. Capped three times at international level, he is very much a story of failed promise.

Signed from Ajax by Newcastle after growing up in the prestigious Dutch club’s academy, his career never really took off in the Premier League.

In fact, since arriving in England, it hasn’t taken off at all.

Now 30, Anita has left Leeds by mutual consent. It took until deadline day in the European window for his future to be resolved but he is now no longer at Elland Road.

That is likely to come as some relief. He never appeared under Marcelo Bielsa for the Whites, joining Willem II on loan in 2018/19.

His average match rating of 6.18, per WhoScored, tells a sorry story though.

This isn’t the player that Leeds arguably thought they were getting.

A versatile individual boasting the ability to play in defence and midfield, this should have been seen as somewhat of a coup for the Championship. Among certain supporters, there is a feeling of relief but also a sense that it was a shame things didn’t work out.

But as Anita finally waved farewell, he’ll leave behind a sentiment of what could have been.

He appeared just 22 times for the club but it wasn’t without a lack of promise.

During his first few months at Leeds, Anita played at left-back, a role he initially looked to make his own.

In his first seven starts, he completed a mighty 17 tackles as the Whites lost just once in that time versus Milwall.

He made four of those challenges in his first two outings against Fulham and Sunderland before really impressing against Nottingham Forest. In that fixture, he won three tackles, three interceptions and made four clearances according to WhoScored.

He then made a further five successful challenges against Birmingham.

Statistically, he coped well at full-back and even made a clearance off the line against Ipswich.

There was a slight dip in that loss against Milwall achieving a rating of 6.6 but he was back on it when Leeds beat Burton 5-0, finishing on a 7.

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Those matches gave an indication of the type of player Anita was and what he could have become.

Beyond that point, the Dutchman found things tough. He didn’t appear in the squad for three consecutive games and then had to suffer from being on the bench for the majority of the 2017/18 campaign.

There is unlikely to be much regret surrounding his departure but he was definitely someone who could have offered so much more.

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Article title: Vurnon Anita leaves Leeds with a sense of what could have been

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