Andy Couzens has told LeedsUnited.News that he believes Gjanni Alioski will leave the club this summer – and is confident that Crystal Palace left-back Patrick van Aanholt would be a good replacement for the North Macedonia international, should Leeds look to pursue the soon-to-be free agent ahead of the summer window. Couzens also discussed Leif Davis, and the youngster’s chances of breaking into the left-back frame.
Alioski, 29, is out of contract this summer. He is set to feature for his country at Euro 2021 and will remain a Leeds player heading into the tournament but by the time the competition comes to an end, Alioski will have seen his Leeds deal expire. There are strong rumours linking Alioski with a move to bitter rivals Galatasaray – but nothing confirmed as of yet.
He has been a pivotal member of the Leeds side this season, featuring in all but two of the club’s 29 Premier League fixtures. He has benefited massively from Stuart Dallas’ versatility, with the Northern Ireland international moving from left-back to central midfield and impressing in what has become known as the Mateusz Klich role.
Couzens expects him to leave, given his contract runs out in June: ” don’t think Alioski will be around, I think he will leave,” Couzens told us at LUN. “Alioski has done a great job this year, he’s obviously a very big character in the dressing room and it is a big loss in that sense. But not signing a new contract tells you most likely everything you need to know. His next move is his next big pay day, he might be offered double. It does look like he will leave and we have to get the right replacement.”
Leeds need a left-back anyway, and with Alioski leaving that just heightens that lack of options on the left side of defence. Romain Perraud of Brest has been linked, as has Netherlands international van Aanholt – with the ex-Chelsea man’s contract at Crystal Palace in a similar predicament to that of Alioski at Elland Road. Leeds are supposedly looking at van Aanholt.
That is according to the Mirror – who claim Marcelo Bielsa has identified the left-back as ideal ahead of the summer window. He would certainly add enormous Premier League experience to a side that lack much top-flight outings, despite this season. Couzens believes van Aanholt would be a good addition, if he is not expecting wages in the region of £80,000 a week.
“Yeah I’d have him, I’d have him,” Couzens continued. “I wouldn’t be paying him £70, £80k a week – some of these free agents get. He’s definitely somebody I would have, with the left-back position – you want an energetic left-back that fits the bill, one with composure. This is where Bielsa comes in, and his backroom staff. But I would have him, I think he’s a very good player, I think he would fit our style quite well. I still think we need somebody else there in case he gets injured, we need two people for each position.”
But even if Leeds do sign van Aanholt, the likelihood is that Alioski will depart and Northern Ireland mainstay Dallas will continue in midfield. Leeds could do with another left-sided defender, one that might be happy with playing back-up to a van Aanholt, a Perraud or another big-name signing – and that could be Davis. Couzens has been impressed by the youngster, after a string of good performances for the Under-23’s.
“Leif Davis is doing very well, and giving himself a good name for himself. He’s very energetic, very up and down but there us only one person who knows if he is good enough and if he is ready. He might well be a number two left-back, and he might be happy to do that for a year or two. There will be a few left-backs out there.”