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Leeds sorry to see Alioski go as he leaves Elland Road
Tuesday, 6th Jul 2021 12:58 by Tim Whelan

It’s official. Ezgjan Alioski has left Leeds United after his contract expired last week and he was unable to agree terms for an extension, but the club and the fans have been eager to say how much he will be missed.

A statement of the club’s official website reads “Leeds United can confirm Ezgjan Alioski’s four-year spell with Leeds United has come to an end. Whilst the club made offers for Gjanni to stay, we have been unable to reach an agreement with his representatives and his existing contract expired last week.”

Earlier in the year we were aghast at the news the 29-year-old had agreed a pre-contract deal with the hated Galatasaray, but he later changed his mind once he learned how much the Turkish club are despised in Leeds after two of our fans were murdered in Istanbul in 2000. So he is now leaving without any new deal in place elsewhere, but no doubt somebody will soon come in for the North Macedonian international.

Alioski joined Leeds from Swiss side Lugano back in the summer of 2017, and went on to score 22 goals in 171 appearances in all competitions for the club. And when his goals came they were often spectacular, such as the volley from a corner at Huddersfield in the promotion season, and his shot from outside the area in the 5-0 win at West Brom just after Christmas.

Though he was initially signed as a left winger, all of his 39 appearances last season were at left-back, once the club had sent Barry Douglas out on loan and signed numerous other options in the more advanced positions on that flank. That said, his boundless energy frequently saw him still running forward down the left to join the attack, so a lot of the time he was playing as an extra winger in any case.

But while he was adequate as a defender against the lesser teams in the Premiership, he was the weakest link in the defence against top right-sided attackers, and this has prompted the club to sign a specialist left back in Junior Firpo this summer.

Alioski would sill have been useful as a squad member with his ability to cover both attacking and defensive roles on the left , but clearly would no longer be a first choice starter next season. And this may well be the reason why the club felt unable to meet the wage demands of the player and/or his agent when they sat down to try to negotiate a new deal.

Many Leeds fans have said on social media that he will be missed for his constant cheeky antics both on and off the field, from photo-bombing his team-mates in the tunnel, to his ‘baby face’ in the game at Burnley. And despite the parting of the ways, the club have been keen to pay tribute to Alioski.

Victor Orta said on the official site “I knew Gjanni was going to be special the moment he walked into the building. The emotion I saw in his face and the face of his parents when signed his contract here at Elland Road was a beautiful moment and I was sure he was going to give everything for Leeds United.”

“Even with this in mind he exceeded my expectations. Gjanni has been exceptional both on and off the field, his teammates will miss him greatly, as will all of the staff at Thorp Arch and Elland Road. We thank Gjanni for all of his efforts and we wish him every success for the future.” And so say all of us.


Reuters



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