Rafa Benitez was a huge fan of reported Leeds United target Daniel Ayala

Leeds United are reportedly interested in bringing Daniel Ayala to Elland Road before the start of next season, whenever that may be.

The Spanish defender is out of contract with Middlesbrough in the summer and Leeds United have been credited with an interest for some time.

Much of that is likely down to director of football Victor Orta’s previous relationship with the player, with the Northern Echo recently suggesting Leeds are monitoring the 29-year-old’s situation. The Daily Star have now claimed Ayala will leave Boro when his contract expires at the end of the current season, giving Leeds an opportunity to swoop in.

Ayala has now established himself as something of a trusted Championship defender. However, he was initially hyped up as potentially much more.

Ayala joined Liverpool from Sevilla as a teenager in 2007 and made a handful of appearances in the first-team at Anfield. His former boss Rafa Benitez was a big fan of his talents. In fact, a decade ago, in April 2010, the Spaniard tipped Ayala for a future in the Liverpool first-team on the club’s website, as relayed by Goal. 

“Daniel has been really good for the reserves through the whole season and now he has had his opportunity in the first-team.

“He is good in the air, he is focused all the time and he has the potential to be a great defender.”

Ayala never lived up to that idea but has certainly not flopped in his career. With nearly 200 appearances in the Championship with the likes of Hull City, Derby County, and Nottingham Forest as well as a promotion campaign with Middlesbrough, Ayala has made the most of his talents.

Leeds United look uncertain at centre-back going forward. Ben White and Gaetano Berardi’s futures at Elland Road remain up in the air so bringing in a player of Ayala’s standard on a free transfer could be the perfect option.

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