Leeds United brought in Macedonian winger Ezgjan ‘Gjanni’ Alioski from Swiss Super League side FC Lugano ahead of the 2017/18 Sky Bet Championship season. He was one of Victor Orta’s first buys.
He arrived at Elland Road with a 16 goal/14 assist season behind him in the Swiss Super League, an eye-watering return for the left-back turned into a rampaging left-wing/forward.
With a bar set that high, fans are right to expect a decent return, albeit adjusted for the step-up in class to the Championship. In his first season at Elland Road, the affable Macedonian was an almost ever-present (42 appearances) in a campaign where he scored seven goals and provided five assists.
A decent enough return from the Prilep-born international, and one that boded well for this season. This season his early returns are looking decent with him notching three goals and three assists in Leeds’ opening 12 games, the goals coming against Derby County, Norwich City and Birmingham City.
Still, it isn’t for his scoring or assist providing that Leeds United fans are commenting about Alioski, it’s for what they perceive as certain deficiencies in his overall game. Caught offside far too often, last-pass decision-making a little too wayward, perceived inability to beat his man, and at times scattergun shooting…yes Alioski does have his critics.
But he does help Leeds get into dangerous positions and he does work tirelessly in Marcelo Bielsa’s high-press game. He’s created 25 chances for Leeds United this season through ‘key passes’, at an average of over two per game.
Yes there are his 19 offsides that he’s been caught this season, but that can be countered by his 26 tackles and nine clearances as he’s tirelessly tracked back when the Whites are under pressure.
In truth, Alioski has been blowing a little hot-and-cold this season, exhibiting a Jekyll and Hyde approach to his play. That’s in the Sky Bet Championship for Leeds United though. On the international scene, for Macedonia, Gjanni Alioski has been in sparkling form.
In his last three games for his country, the energetic winger/attacking midfielder has scored three goals; a goal in each game coming against Gibraltar, Armenia and Lichtenstein.
With this upturn in international form, Leeds United fans will no doubt be hoping that it translates to a similar upturn in form and consistency at Elland Road.