No doubt Leeds United would jump at the chance to sign Kyle Bartley on a permanent basis this summer. Yet, the decision may be taken out of their hands. The on-loan centre-back is out of contract at parent club Swansea City at the end of next season and, according to The Sun, the South Wales club could be willing to sell him elsewhere in the summer.
The report suggests that Bournemouth could be a potential destination but it is links with Stoke City that carry the most intrigue. Especially with long-serving captain Ryan Shawcross linked with a shock switch to Newcastle United.
The Independent claim the 29-year-old is Newcastle manager Rafael Benitez’s primary summer target. He wants more Premier League experience in his backline and it’s fair to say Shawcross, who has played over 300 top flight games in nine successive seasons, is hardly lacking in that department.
Ironically, however, Newcastle may instead be better off targeting Shawcross’ potential replacement. At 25-years-old Bartley would represent more of a short-term solution while also possessing the ball skills to build from the back if Benitez wants to instil a more measured approach next season.
Furthermore, while he may not possess Shawcross’ wealth of Premier League experience, Bartley impressed greatly when handed an opportunity in the 2014/15 season, his aerial strength and composed positioning meaning it always seemed somewhat harsh that he did not feature more regularly in Swansea colours.
He’s demonstrated that he can lead by example too, captaining Leeds on occasions while marshalling one of the Championship’s most consistent defences. He may be a chest-thumping warrior a la Shawcross but he could have a calming influence on Jamaal Lascelles, the 23-year-old seemingly weighed down by the armband in recent weeks.
And, although this may not appeal to Newcastle fans, Bartley also fits owner Mike Ashley’s desire to sign young, untapped potential. Shawcross, though proven in the top flight, just doesn’t seem like a Newcastle signing.