Working alongside Swedish international Pontus Jansson at the heart of the Leeds United defence the season was Kyle Bartley. But that is not to be next season according to Swansea manager Paul Clement according to an article on Wales Online.
Whilst many lauded the apparent Herculean efforts of Swede Jansson in Leeds’ central defence, many more will likely tell you that key to Leeds’ defensive strength was on loan Swansea man Bartley.
He was an almost ever-present for Leeds this season ,a season that saw them only just fail to achieve a play-off spot. Apart from a one game suspension, Bartley played every minute of the other 45 games in Leeds 2016/17 Sky Bet Championship campaign – the former Arsenal youngster scoring six goals and providing two assists.
But his impact was beyond just those headline goals/assists figures, he was a clichéd ‘rock at the back’, giving Leeds’ defensive unit a definite sense of cohesion and strength. Testament to that were the following figures that give some indication of his influence whilst on the pitch:
Kyle Bartley – 2016/17 Sky Bet Championship stats (per game)
- Tackles: 1.3
- Interceptions: 1.6
- Clearances: 7.6
- Blocks: 1.6
- Fouls committed: 1
- Possession loss: 0.4 (0.2 bad touches; 0.2 dispossessed)
- Aerial duels: 3.6
- Passes: 30.2 from 38.1 (79.3% accurate)
But numbers only tell a marginal story, because Leeds fans know that Kyle Bartley was a better player than just his ‘output’, which is why news that he is not coming back to the club has hit the Whites fanbase pretty hard.
Swansea manager Clement’s no-nonsense comments don’t make for good reading for Leeds United fans. The Swansea boss said of Bartley: “from our point of view I’m looking forward him coming back and working with him. As far as I’m concerned he’s a Swansea player and he’s staying. He’s coming back here.”
Leeds United fans comment on Twitter regarding Bartley bombshell news
As would be expected, the news that Kyle Bartley was seen by Clement as a Swan has come as a big blow to Leeds United fans who saw the centre-back as an important cog needed to rebuild the Whites machine. The loss that these fans feel is almost palpable.
Guesswork is fine but Leeds United fans have had enough of ‘guessing’ at things and are wanting things to be a little more concrete. Most Leeds fans will tell you this, even those who were concerned about Bartley’s lack of game time at Swansea before his arrival in West Yorkshire.
Even if Bartley cant escape Swansea he`ll never be the same player for them, you play best where your heart is, and thats at Leeds
— Mr Right (@LeedsUnUnited) May 11, 2017
Bartley himself admitted that he loved his time at Leeds, and that he’d love to return but that he was still a Swansea player, but this Leeds fan sees a glimmer of hope…maybe.
We're signing Bartley I'm sure of it. The only reason he's going back to Swansea is to get the rest of his things and bring them to Leeds.
— Aleks (@Aleks_LUFC) May 11, 2017
Aleks’ views may have a certain resonance, his hope may not be too far misplaced. There isn’t universal agreement that Bartley will even be considered as a first choice defender should the Swans stay up – a view put forward by this Swansea fan.
Interesting to hear Clement's thoughts on Bartley. I don't think he'd get in the team over Fede or Alfie & think he'd rather stay at Leeds?
— Josh Kilmister (@joshkilmister) May 11, 2017
These Leeds fans (below) is one of those Leeds fans who are finding it hard to accept that Bartley won’t be swapping South Wales for West Yorkshire.
— James Cockerham (@h_cockerham) May 11, 2017
Truly gutted if #lufc don't land Bartley he was immense best we've had in long time
— Mark Ramm (@rammy79) May 11, 2017
Bartley is not the only pressing issue that Leeds United fans have where someone needs signing up to the club and quick. Aside from the popular central defender is the contract of head coach Garry Monk, a contract that is effectively up but at least negotiations are ongoing. The following Leeds fan sees the signing of Monk being something of a catalyst.
I'd love to have had Bartley for another year or longer. Players come and go though. Get Monk signed on first! Players will follow. #lufc
— Lee Holdsworth (@jeeblufc) May 11, 2017
It is still a long summer ahead, one where the transfer market will twist and turn like a trapped snake. Despite the assertions of Paul Clement over Kyle Bartley’s future, I’d not be surprised if there were a few more twists and turns regarding Kyle Bartley and Leeds United.