Luke Ayling has remained a mainstay in Marcelo Bielsa’s Leeds United side since the Whites gained promotion to the Premier League. Whether he has been used at right-back or in the middle of the defence, Ayling has taken to top-tier football like a duck to water – but his most impressive stat is seemingly when it comes to going forward.
There were question marks over whether the likes of Ayling, Liam Cooper, Stuart Dallas and Patrick Bamford and whether they would be able to cope with the step up from Championship to Premier League football. The aforementioned quartet, among others, have spent the majority of their careers in the Championship – and the Premier League is clearly a different beast.
But they have adapted well and while Leeds have only won once in their last six outings, the Whites are clearly not punching above their weight – instead they look more than at home. Ayling has quickly become one of the bargains of the club’s history, joining the Whites form Bristol City in 2016 for less than £1million – just £750,000 (Mail).
Defensively, he has helped Leeds keep four clean sheets in 12 games. That is, despite playing right-back, the right side of a back three or in the middle – and has even worn the captain’s armband on three occasions. But it is one impressive stat going forward that sees Ayling not only top the Premier League, but Europe’s top five leagues.
Indeed, Ayling – according to Twitter page Playmaker – has produced more progressive passes than anyone in Europe’s top five leagues (Premier League, Bundesliga, Ligue 1, Serie A and La Liga). Yes, that is correct. More than Lionel Messi, more than Cristiano Ronaldo – and only just pipping Liverpool’s Trent Alexander-Arnold and Manchester United playmaker Bruno Fernandes.