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Alioski row takes a dark turn as artwork is vandalised
Wednesday, 24th Mar 2021 21:21 by Tim Whelan

Opinion is divided among Leeds fans as to whether or not Ezgjan Alioski should be forgiven for his intention to join Galatasaray, but most of us have been horrified that a ‘Burley Banksy’ mural in honour of the player has been daubed by offensive graffiti.

Alioski said earlier in the season that he would like to remain at Elland Road when his contract runs out at the end of the season, but talks with the club over another deal came to nothing. So he has been able to agree a pre-contract with an overseas club since 1 January, and several well-placed sources have revealed that he has done so with Galatasaray.

The Turkish club have of course been reviled by all fans of Leeds United since the events of April 2020, when Kevin Speight and Christopher Loftus were murdered in Istanbul before the UEFA Cup semi-final. So the news that a current Leeds player is intending to go there has inevitably provoked a strong reaction from some Leeds fans.

One posting on social media said “They suit each other. Gala is an awful football club and Alioski is an awful footballer.” And another read “Washed my hands with Alioski if he f***s off to those vermin.” And now someone has defaced a mural painted on a telephone box near Elland Road by street artist Andy McVeigh, known as 'Burley Banksy'.

McVeigh told the Yorkshire Evening Post “I don’t know what my work has got to do with it. If they want to deface something, they could have done it on a blank box and put their own message on there. If he’s a Leeds fan, it’s sad because he knows the work I put into these murals across the city. It’s sad that one of your own would do that. I just don’t see how it helps anyone.”

Up until now Alioski has been one of the most popular members of the current squad, for his non-stop energy, his lively personality and the excellent goals he has scored with his left foot. I would like to have seen him stay on at Elland Road, but only as a useful squad member, as he would have been unlikely to have been in the first choice eleven once the squad has been further strengthened in the summer.

He has been predominantly used as a left-back since Douglas was sold to Blackburn, but his limitations as a defender have become apparent at the top level, especially when he has come up against some of the best right-sided attackers in the Premier League. It’s likely that Leeds will be looking to sign a specialist left-back during the summer to strengthen the defence.

And although the ‘Duracell Bunny’ can play further forward on the left, we have plenty of other options on the flanks, with four wingers in the squad and the option of playing Dallas there if need be. So at the age of 29 Alioski is looking for one more long-term contract to take him to the end of his career.

Personally, I think we should forgive him if he thinks that going to Galatasaray is the best option for him at this stage of his career. He was only 8 years old in the year 2000, so he might not appreciate the depth of feeling that still exists in our city. Unlike Harry Kewell, who was a member of the Leeds side at the time of the murders and stuck two fingers up to us all when he signed for Galatasaray in 2008.

I’d rather he signed for almost any other club but them, but I’ll still thank him for the part he has played in getting our great club back to where we are today, and wish him well for his future career.

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