Marcelo Bielsa’s Leeds United should be playing Premier League football next season; will they take Middlesbrough’s Daniel Ayala with them to the top?

Daniel Ayala could be forced to take a pay cut if he wants to stay at Middlesbrough, according to the Northern Echo, with Leeds United ready to offer the Spaniard an escape route out of Riverside.

With those parachute payments coming to an end, funds are tight in the North East these days.

And anyone who criticises the job Jonathan Woodgate has done since taking over from Tony Pulis has to at least accept that a young manager is operating with one arm tied behind his back.

Middlesbrough have been forced to fast-track a number of academy graduates into the first-team picture, with owner Steve Gibson looking to reduce the wage bill and avoid a financial nightmare.

Experienced centre-back Ayala is one of Boro’s highest earners and, as the Northern Echo points out, extending his current contract is not really an option.

The one-time Liverpool youngster, who was tipped for stardom by Rafa Benitez, will have to accept a reduced pay-packet if he is to remain at Middlesbrough for at least another season.

Therefore, you’d imagine that a move to Leeds would appeal, and not just because Marcelo Bielsa’s thrilling, free-flowing side look set to be playing Premier League football next season.

The Whites were linked with Ayala in 2019 and it seems that they are still keen on the giant defender, potentially identifying him as a replacement for Brighton loanee Ben White.

Ayala, who joined Boro from Norwich for £350,000, impressed at Elland Road back in November even as Woodgate’s beleaguered side lost 4-0 in West Yorkshire.

Brilliant in the air and a goal threat at the other end of the pitch, questions still have to be asked whether Ayala has the technical ability to slot into Bielsa’s XI.

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