Leeds United boss Marcelo Bielsa must play Ezgjan Alioski in his trademark left-back role if the North Macedonia international stays, claims one pundit.
The 29-year-old remains one Whites player whose future remains unclear heading towards his contract’s expiry. While Leeds announced departures for Gaetano Berardi and Pablo Hernandez, news has not emerged about Alioski. His chances of staying may look slim, but recent reports suggest there is hope.
The lack of clarity means there is a chance Alioski could still pen a new deal and extend his four-year association.
Since joining from Switzerland’s top tier in 2017, he has largely played at left-back despite his trademark role as a winger.
Speaking to Football Insider, though, pundit Kevin Phillips insisted there must be a change if Alioski is to stay.
“There’s always hope. It’s a big decision going and offering a new and improved deal,” he said.
“Leeds are in the Premier League and are going to be exciting, there’s going to be fans back in the stadium. When he hasn’t signed anywhere else or actually left the club, there’s always hope.
“It would be no surprise if he was to leave because I think everybody expects it. But if he is to sign, that would be good for Leeds.
“He’s been playing at left back when he isn’t natural there. So hopefully if he does sign, he’s got to play in the position that he wants to play.”
Alioski has nevertheless proved a fantastic servant for Leeds, racking up 171 appearances overall.
He played a crucial role last season, making 36 Premier League appearances as the Whites finished ninth. He is now focusing on Euro 2020 and played in North Macedonia’s 3-1 defeat to Austria in their first Group C game on Sunday.
Meanwhile, Stuart Dallas has moved to midfield from left-back and could well stay there next season.
Leeds on left-back transfer hunt
As such, left-back has emerged as a key area for Leeds to strengthen this summer.
Stade Brest’s Romain Perraud looked to be the club’s top target, but a big doubt from sporting director Victor Orta saw the deal fall through.
Since then, Huesca’s Javi Galan has become a new name on Orta’s shortlist.