Working alongside Swedish international Pontus Jansson at the heart of the Leeds United defence the season was Kyle Bartley. Whereas Jansson seemed to get the recognition and plaudits, Bartley just coolly went about his business.
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.
Swansea manager Paul Clement, in an article from Wales Online, has already aimed a dagger at Leeds fans’ hearts with his assurances that Bartley still has a future at the Liberty Stadium.
Clement’s no-nonsense comments don’t make for good reading for Leeds United fans. The Swansea boss said of Bartley returning to the club: “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.”
But with Swansea’s Premier League survival now guaranteed after their 2-0 win over Sunderland and Hull’s capitulation at the hands of Crystal Palace, Leeds fans suddenly see a chink of light and hope regarding the ‘Bartley situation.’
Swansea survive and Leeds fans grow hopeful of Bartley return
There is hope that is springing eternal around Kyle Bartley and Leeds United. It is hope that centres around Swansea’s Premier League survival. For Leeds fans, this could very well mean that the side from the Principality will go for proven top-tier quality over the second-tier endeavour that Bartley showed for the West Yorkshire side.
— Trigga (@TriggaTraff) May 14, 2017
As Leeds fan Trigga says above, there was a very concerted willing by Leeds United fans that Swansea would stay up, Whites fans seeing this giving them an advantage in bringing back Bartley.
Replying to the congratulatory message from Leeds United second-in-command Pep Clotet for Swansea managing to stay up, this Leeds United fan makes their point.
@pepclotet Hopefully that will pave way for us to get Bartley. Enjoy the break you and team have all deserved it after this season #MOT#ALAW 💙💛💙
— Lee Maspero (@Leemo_LUFC) May 14, 2017
There is little doubt that Kyle Bartley has had a massive effect on Leeds United fans, his coolness at the back, and his ability to net from set pieces, has marked him out as one of those ‘must get’ players in this summer’s transfer window.
— CrossMagic (@CrossMagic) May 14, 2017
As Leeds fan and Twitter user CrossMagic says, Leeds fans would be “more than happy” for the former Arsenal youngster to return north to West Yorkshire and Elland Road. This wanting the return of Kyle Bartley seems to be a common theme that is developing amongst Leeds fans, if the reactions of the following fans is representative of the whole.
@SwansOfficial Well done, now can we keep Kyle Bartley?
— James Hall (@JamLUFC) May 14, 2017
Congratulations Swansea, you are staying up.
Now give us Bartley.
— LUFC Away Days (@LUFCAway) May 14, 2017
Now give us Bartley plz #lufc
— Luke (@luke_hill) May 14, 2017
@SwansOfficial Can we have Kyle Bartley now lads? We can take him off your hands if you want
— Luke Collier (@LukeeLUFC) May 14, 2017
It is still a long summer ahead, one where the transfer market will twist and turn like a rat trapped in a darkened corner. Despite what Paul Clement says over Kyle Bartley’s future, Leeds United fans are still hopeful that he will plump for proven Premier League players over Championship consistency that Kyle Bartley showed for Leeds this season just gone.
In that spirit, I’d not be surprised if there were a few more twists and turns regarding Kyle Bartley and Leeds United – possibly with a newly-signed Garry Monk bringing the defensive colossus in.
Bring Bartley in or leave Bartley out – what do you think?