Leeds United missed Chris Wood’s lethal nature in front of goal last season; equally they also missed Kyle Bartley’s measured calmness at the other end of the pitch.
There were murmurs of discontent when he signed, the former Arsenal trainee not having had much time on the pitch at Swansea. After impressive early displays for the Whites, those murmurs died back, soon to disappear forever.
Bartley quickly formed a solid partnership with Swede Pontus Jansson, both these excellent players able to play off each other and display their different strengths. It was that clichéd match made in heaven, but it soon became clear that the Whites had themselves a great central defensive partnership – and Bartley was right at the heart of it.
With Bartley gone, with a revolving door of partners for Jansson far too many Leeds United games saw implosion in the middle as opponents simply overwhelmed and over-ran the Leeds United defence. For these fans, it reminded them of previous seasons when Massimo Cellino was in charge and Giuseppe Bellusci was a first-choice at the back.
A number of weeks ago journalist Phil Hay said that Leeds were back in for the solid Bartley, and United fans’ hearts began to beat quicker. That was followed up with more recent news that the Swans were ready to sell Bartley after the Manchester-born centre-back signalled his intention of leaving the relegated South Wales side.
Hay’s most recent article (above) says that “City’s board are willing to listen to offers having been told that he [Bartley] wants to consider options elsewhere.” Hay goes on to say that, with an initial outlay of £4 million being mentioned, that he “is understood to see Leeds as his first choice” out of all the clubs chasing his signature.
Leeds United fans would likely crawl over broken glass to get Bartley back at the club and some cohesion back in to the centre of defence. Whilst the club may be working on a deal, it seems that they might have someone giving them a helping hand (below).
Poppy Weller is the partner of Leeds United right-back Luke Ayling and the Aylings are currently on holiday with Bartley – in fact it is one of two holidays that they will be sharing over the course of this summer.
there is also a deeper link between Bartley and Ayling, both players coming up through the youth system at Arsenal before going their separate ways in football. They were reunited at Elland Road for the 2016/17 season when Garry Monk brought in Bartley who he knew well from his time at Swansea.
Leeds United fans will be hoping beyond hopes that Poppy Weller and Luke Ayling continue ‘working on it’ and that both theirs and the club’s work pays dividends.