Leeds centre-back Pontus Jansson is at the centre of a deepening mystery – a situation that former Yorkshire Evening Post journalist Phil Hay has now dubbed ‘strange’.
However, Jansson hasn’t reported back for pre-season yet. BBC journalist Adam Pope said that he had been given extended leave after his internationals, but that he would be back for the pre-season trip to Australia.
However, it was then reported that he wasn’t expected back until July 12 and that would mean he’ll miss the tour Down Under – a significant one for Leeds’ pre-season plans as they play big rivals Man United on July 17.
What’s going on?
No one knows at the moment, not even the man with his finger on the Leeds’ pulse Phil Hay. He has said that there have been no serious offers for the player and we haven’t heard that the club is actively touting him round but the mood among fans and journalists has shifted. Pope now thinks “something is not right” and said he wouldn’t be surprised if Jansson left this summer.
What if he leaves?
It would be a blow. Jansson is popular with fans but he’s also the club’s best centre-back. Jansson and Cooper struck up a solid partnership at the back last season and there isn’t much known quality in depth in that position at the club. Both Cooper and Jansson delivered big numbers at the back in aerial duels (Jansson: 8.64/ 51.5% won; Cooper: 7.69/65% won), interceptions (Jansson: 5.31; Cooper 5.38) and clearances (Jansson: 3.25; Cooper: 2.69) per 90 minutes in the Championship last season. Jansson’s passing figures were super though, making 53.98 per 90 minutes with a 90.3% success rate [wyscout.com]. Leeds have brought in Ben White from Brighton and shipped out Aapo Halme to Barnsley. White hasn’t been tested at Championship level after loan stints with Newport (League Two) and Peterborough (League One). If Jansson does go then Leeds would have to bring someone in or face being even shorter in a position they struggled with last season. Kalvin Phillips – critical in the defensive midfield position – had to fill in at centre-back too many times. With Leeds set to travel to Australia within the next week and Bielsa keen to coach new players for weeks before unleashing them into the first team, this is an issue that we’d expect – or at least hope – to be sorted one way or another before the club heads Down Under. Watch this space.