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Long-time servant looks set to leave Leeds – What could this mean for young star?

Leeds’ long-time servant Luke Ayling looks set to leave the Yorkshire side during the summer, according to Teamtalk. The veteran is out of contract in the summer and the club are rumoured to be considering letting him move on.

The right-back, who can also play in the centre of defence, has been a mainstay at Leeds United since his departure from Bristol City in 2016. Signed for around £200,000, the versatile Ayling has proven himself immense value for money. Over the course of this season, however, he has found it hard to break into the side with Kristensen holding his own in the position. 

Rumours have it that fellow right-back Cody Drameh is potentially on his way out of the club as early as January. The Whites must see value in him though, as they are hoping that the youngster will choose to stay and fight for his place and rise in the pecking order come summertime, according to Graeme Bailey. Drameh signed for the Whites from Fulham in 2020 and hasn’t yet been able to break into the first team. He was highly rated at Fulham, and featured in England’s youth teams at multiple age levels. 

Drameh and Ayling are vastly different fullbacks at vastly different stages of their careers and both offer a different dynamic to the squad. Ayling is a dependable defender who isn’t afraid of going forward to help the team. Drameh is somewhat of an unknown quantity in the Premier League still, but in his brief spells on the pitch in cup competitions for Leeds, he has proven he has pace to burn and is also comfortable on the ball.

While it may be prudent for the club to save money by offloading the veteran in the summer, many might argue that unless the club uses that money to add another body to the squad, it may be more useful giving the reliable defender another year at the club. Given the injury crisis last year, can the Whites really afford to be one man lighter? A lot can change in a season, and we may well see Ayling allowed more exposure in the Premier League dependent on tactics and injuries.

Only time will tell if Drameh grabs this opportunity with both hands and proves to Leeds fans that the team could cope with life after Ayling.

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