By Craig Scott

20th Dec, 2019 | 8:00am

MOT View: Leeds surely have strong chance of Jan deal to sign 6ft 3 colossus amid latest update

Leeds United surely stand a good chance of signing reported target Daniel Ayala from Middlesbrough in the January transfer window.

The Northern Echo reported last month that Leeds are ready to table a bid for the 29-year-old centre-back in January as Marcelo Bielsa aims to add to his defensive options.

Ayala’s contract expires at the end of the season, meaning that he could be available on a cut-price deal from Boro next month as they aim to avoid losing him on a free transfer.

A recent update by the Hartlepool Mail says that Ayala is yet to be offered a new contract by Middlesbrough and that should serve as a boost for Leeds with the January transfer window now under two weeks away from opening.

Leeds boast the best defensive record in the Championship this season but the 3-3 draw against Cardiff on Saturday proved that there is still some improvement that can be made to Bielsa’s back-line.

Liam Cooper has had regular injury issues in recent seasons and it seems as though whenever the Scotsman is sidelined, the Whites concede more goals and results are not as good.

Gaetano Berardi is usually the man who steps in to replace Cooper but stats by WhoScored show that Ayala would be a major improvement on the one-time Switzerland international.

Ayala has averaged more tackles, interceptions, clearances and blocks per league appearance than Berardi this term so the 6ft 3 [transfermarkt] Spanish colossus could be a better option than the hot-headed Leeds ace for when Cooper is injured.

Ayala is also a lot better in the air than Berardi with the Middlesbrough defender winning 3.6 aerial duels per appearance compared to Berardi’s two.

Leeds’ defensive vulnerability in the air was an issue on Saturday as Bielsa’s men let slip of a three-goal lead to Cardiff so a January swoop for Ayala does make a lot of sense.

If he’s cheap and keen on a switch to Elland Road then why not?

Leeds do need to be careful of what they spend but as Boro are yet to enter talks over a new deal with the centre-back, it could be well worth the Whites’ time in trying to strike a deal.

In other Leeds United news, three Leeds players have been ruled out of this weekend’s action.