2017 may not be 12 months that Alfonso Pedraza looks back on with too much fondness. The Spanish flyer has split his time between Leeds United and Alaves this calendar year but appears to have joined both club at precisely the wrong time.
Leeds looked good for a place in the Championship play-offs when Pedraza arrived at Elland Road on a short-term loan deal from Villarreal in January. Four months later, however, and a disastrous run of one win in eight left Garry Monk’s side one place outside the top six come the end of the season.
Leeds had an option to buy Pedraza permanently in the summer for £8.5 million, per the Yorkshire Evening Post, if they secured promotion back to the Premier League. Needless to say, the 21-year-old returned to Spain.
Though he didn’t stick around at Villarreal too long, instead joining Alaves on a season-long loan. The move looked a good one on paper, Alaves marking their return to La Liga in style last season by finishing a hugely impressive ninth and reaching the Copa del Ray final.
Things have rather fallen apart since, however, with Alaves losing their opening six games of the new La Liga season before picking up a vital 2-0 win away at Leganes on Saturday. Consequently, they are sitting second from bottom and were the first team to sack their manager, Jose Luis Zubeldia, in 2017/18.
2017, then, has not been too kind on Pedraza, though his individual performances for Alaves have been quite impressive. He’s been converted from a winger to an attack-minded left-back, entrusted with replacing Real Madrid’s £22.8 million Theo Hernandez, who spent last season on loan at the Mendizorrotza (BBC).
He even hit the post twice and was a constant menace in Alaves' recent 2-1 defeat against the reigning La Liga champions.
Yet, after a failed play-off push, Pedraza will have hoped for more than a relegation battle.