Leeds United have been consistently linked with a move for Middlesbrough defender Daniel Ayala and speculation grew to fever pitch on Monday when news broke that he was refusing to play on when the Championship restarts.
That story came from Craig Hope in the Daily Mail, a very reliable journalist, with Ayala’s contract set to expire on June 30.
Hope said of Ayala: “He has now played last game for Boro. Leeds have shown interest.”
Exclusive: Daniel Ayala refuses to play on in Middlesbrough's relegation battle. Defender tells club he will leave on June 30 rather than stay on until end of season. He has now played last game for Boro. Leeds have shown interest https://t.co/czaqNPpKj8
— Craig Hope (@CraigHope_DM) June 15, 2020
This is the last thing that Middlesbrough need at the moment with the club two points above the drop zone and getting ready to fight for their Championship life.
And, for Leeds fans, it shows an alarming lack of loyalty for a club the player has been at for almost seven years.
The general consensus before the Mail story broke was that Ayala was a decent squad player if Leeds could pick him up for free.
Leeds definitely need more depth in the centre of defence and they could get even lighter there if they don’t manage to persuade Ben White to come back for another season at least.
However, the mood has shifted now this story has come out and there are plenty of Leeds fans who don’t want him anywhere near the side after he’s downed tools.
On one hand you can understand it. He’s 29 and this could be a massive opportunity for him in the Premier League if the link with Leeds is true.
On the flipside, fans want players who hold their clubs in their hearts.
You wouldn’t find any Leeds players refusing to play this season and Kalvin Phillips stayed on in the face of sustained Premier League interest last summer.
‘Side before self’ is a common refrain among Leeds fans and Ayala faces an uphill struggle to win over these supporters now…
With this attitude he’s talked his way out of a move to Leeds!!
— chris wilson (@willowlufc) June 16, 2020
Sorry, no thanks, it's Side Before Self at Leeds! Toodle pip 👋
— Jo Bedford 🐾 (@El_Loco_Jo) June 15, 2020
No thanks, especially not after this
— Jonathan Powell (@jpowell100) June 15, 2020
Bad form that from a player.
So far as Leeds is concerned, not my cup of tea, but, Bielsa’s the man
— Bielsa’s Cheese Wedge Ultras (@Allcheese1) June 15, 2020
If there was a 0.0000000001% chance we were interested ( which there wasn’t), there definitely isn’t now.
Not interested in cowards or traitors.
— I Lᴇᴇᴅs Tʜᴇʀᴇғᴏʀᴇ I Aᴍ (A LUFC Podcast) (@LeedsTherefore) June 15, 2020
Hm self before side 🤔
— Jacqueline Hunt (@jjhunt61) June 15, 2020
Refusing to play? Another reason to stay well clear.
— Tommo v2 (@LUFC1992_v2) June 16, 2020
Wasn’t sure about him before this but definitely wouldn’t be interested now – side before self every time please!
— JonR1973 (@jonnyroberts73) June 16, 2020
Has that mentality at his current club then no thanks, hated the guy anyway so hope we dont go anywhere near him 😂
— Josh Holden (@JoshuaHolden93) June 15, 2020
Don’t want someone in Leeds that bails out on his team. 😤
— Chris Fedorowicz (@Cfedseadog) June 15, 2020
Nobody likes a quitter. No thanks, don’t want him at Leeds.
— JD (@MrJD83JohnDay) June 16, 2020
In other Leeds United news, Sky Sports pundit: This is what every pundit is saying about Leeds ahead of clash v Cardiff