Many Leeds United players have impressed this season but Luke Ayling has caught the eye of New York Times journalist Rory Smith.
So much so, in fact, that the reporter gave special mention to the defender after the Newcastle match.
Smith suggested that he is considering a campaign for Ayling to be named as the PFA Player of the Year – the highest recognition a Premier League player can receive.
Considering starting a thing about why Luke Ayling should be PFA Player of the Year
— Rory Smith (@RorySmith) January 26, 2021
Smith can of course vote for the 29-year-old in the Football Writers award, and he may very well do so given the impression Ayling has made on him.
The Whites star has featured at right-back and centre-back this term, with 19 appearances, achieving an average WhoScored rating of seven.
Impressive display vs Newcastle
Ayling returned to his natural full-back position at St. James’ Park and looked much more comfortable.
He ventured forward to support Raphinha and played passes into the forwards – making four passes into the final third, per WyScout.
The former Bristol City man was also very effective in defence, even when faced with the difficult challenge of Allan Saint-Maximin when he came on in the second half.
A return of ten duels won and seven interceptions (WyScout) underline how Ayling was able to sniff out danger.
He could have done a little better for Newcastle’s goal, but Patrick Bamford’s hospital pass also let him down – Bielsa immediately substituting the latter showed what he thought of the incident.
All in all it was a positive performance and an improvement on the frailties he showed against Brighton last time out.
However, as much as we love Ayling, we can’t quite believe that a journalist such as Smith is touting him to win the PFA Player of the Year.
In other Leeds United news, Canal+ transfer claim sparks major speculation that Leeds set to sign left-back in January.