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Leeds United: Journalist expects Whites to eye Ola Aina transfer deal

Leeds United could look to Torino right-back Ola Aina as a potential replacement for Luke Ayling if they do not extend the Englishman’s contract.

What’s the latest?

Whites right-back Ayling now finds his contract winding down to its final months, with it expiring at the end of the 2022/23 campaign.

The 31-year-old has played 230 times for the Whites since making the move to West Yorkshire in 2016, but there has now been a suggestion he could be replaced by 26-year-old Aina.

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Journalist Pete O’Rourke has been speaking to Football FanCast amid the January transfer window and has suggested the Serie A defender could become an option if Victor Orta decides against offering Ayling an extended stay at Elland Road.

He said: “Ola Aina has been mentioned before as a potential transfer target for Leeds following his time in Italy with Torino as well.

“So yeah, a good young player, again, a versatile defender, and if Leeds do decide not to offer Luke Ayling a new contract, I’m sure Ola Aina is somebody that they will consider.”

Time to move on?

The Whites have had their issues in the Premier League since the beginning of the 2021/22 campaign which saw them hang on to their top-flight status by the skin of their teeth.

And there are little signs that this season will provide the Leeds fans with anything other than another relegation battle as they sit just two points above the drop zone.

Ayling has not played a huge role in Marsch’s side this season as a result of Rasmus Kristensen’s arrival and injury issues, which have restricted him to 248 minutes in the league (via Transfermarkt).

Should Leeds extend Ayling's deal?

Yes

Yes

No

No

However, we do have to question what Ayling now provides this Leeds side that would deem him worthy of being awarded an extended stay at Elland Road.

In his 73 Premier League appearances, the right-back has only provided three assists and having suffered from multiple fitness issues, you have to wonder whether it is time for Leeds to move on.

With Aina – who was targeted during Marcelo Bielsa’s tenure – Leeds could potentially be adding a versatile 26-year-old who has the ability to play across a number of positions that has been displayed during his time with Torino.

Already this season, Aina has averaged more tackles per game than Ayling and provided Torino with more shot-creating actions per 90 than Ayling has in the Premier League (via FBref).

However, just as his season seemed to get up and running with a goal against Udinese, the Nigerian has been ruled out of action with a bicep muscle injury (via Transfermarkt).

With this in mind, it may be difficult to imagine Leeds making a move for him this month, but with Ayling’s contract winding down to a potential conclusion, he could prove a serious option for the summer.