Marcelo Bielsa on Luke Ayling’s future Leeds United role after impressive centre-back stint

Leeds United head coach Marcelo Bielsa has praised the character of Luke Ayling following the defender’s recent excellent performances at the heart of the Whites defence.

Ayling has been moved across from his usual right-back position to cover for central defensive absentees in Leeds’ last five matches, but has put in a string of superb displays, not least in the back-to-back wins over Burnley and West Bromwich Albion during the festive period so far.

Leeds have picked up maximum points from their last two fixtures, despite being without their three first-choice central defenders, with Liam Cooper, Diego Llorente and Robin Koch all out injured.

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Following the 5-0 win over the Baggies, Bielsa was asked about Ayling’s recent form and whether he sees a future for the 29-year-old as a centre-back.

“When he plays as a full-back he also shines,” Bielsa said. “As a centre-back he’s shining and I think if he played as a defensive midfielder he would also be efficient.

“He’s a player who has qualities. Normally he uses a big percentage of his virtues because he forces it upon himself and he has the character to take risks without making errors which is what distinguishes the best players.

“They chose well, they execute well and when they take risks they don’t make mistakes.”

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Ayling has started every game in the Premier League for Leeds this season and has been wearing the captain’s armband in Cooper’s absence.

Next up for Leeds is a trip to north London to face Tottenham Hotspur in Leeds’ first match of 2021.

The 5-0 trashing of West Brom ensured that they ended 2020 on a high as they moved up to 11th place in the Premier League table, just three points off the European places and 12 ahead of the relegations zone.

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