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.”

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…

In other Leeds United news, Sky Sports pundit: This is what every pundit is saying about Leeds ahead of clash v Cardiff

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