Ezgjan Alioski has been one of Marcelo Bielsa’s most trusted men this campaign, so, it must come as a surprise that the North Macedonian has rejected a contract extension at the club with his current contract expiring this summer. Leeds United, currently 10th in the table had a respectable first half of the season and this had a lot to do with Ezgjan Alioski.
Alioski is by far the one man who portrays Bielsa’s tactics on the pitch through his relentless energy, understanding of space, and exploiting it time & again. Although Alioski has played a majority of this season as a left-back due to the injuries of Diego Llorente & Stuart Dallas, he has been very good at deputizing in that zone.
The 29-year-old takes every chance he gets to overlap across the furthest winger and sometimes being the furthest man forward, courtesy of which he has also developed the skill of holding on to the ball in tight situations. Further, he has deputized everywhere across the left side, as Alioski has played as a wingback, a midfielder, and a winger this season. An active feature of every Leeds United player is that they do not hesitate to take long shots, and Alioski too, is no stranger to this, as he continuously tries to get into attacking positions and tries to find the back of the net, more often than not from outside the box.
His defensive positioning is one of the best in the Leeds defensive backline, while Marcelo’s Bielsa’s demanding passing system also suits the 29-year-old, as he has averaged an 82% pass completion rate this term which is evidence enough of why Bielsa wants Alioski to stay at the club for as long as possible.
However, with the return of Stuart Dallas and Diego Llorente, Alioski’s appearances have been limited to coming off the bench, and with his future uncertain at the club, it is hard to find a game where Alioski might start again for the Whites.
Leeds United brought the wingback to Elland Road in July 2017 and he was probably one of the best signings Leeds have made in the past 5 years which causes even more confusion as to why Alioski wants to leave the club at such a point, as Leeds United look comfortably secured for the Premier League again next season. There has been interest from the Turkish club, Galatasaray, who would be open to bringing the wingback on a free transfer and it makes sense why this could intrigue Alioski.
While it could take long for Leeds United to get back into Europe, Alioski, currently 29, would want to play in the Champions League before retiring and this looks incredibly likely as Galatasaray are currently second in the Super Lig, Turkey’s first-tier championship, and with only 2 points separating them from the top, Galatasaray will almost certainly play in the Champions League next season.
Leeds United will regret not receiving any money for the North Macedonian but with Stuart Dallas at the club and their pursuit of youngster Josh Doig at Celtic, it looks like Leeds United have already started to prepare for life without Ezgjan Alioski.