CLUB captain Sol Bamba has left Leeds United due to personal reasons by mutual consent.
The 31-year-old had fallen down the United pecking order at centre-back and failed to make the United match-day 18 for last Saturday’s 3-1 loss at Nottingham Forest.
The Whites were willing to listen to any potential interest in the defender on transfer deadline day but Wednesday night’s 11pm deadline passed with Bamba still at the club.
And now the defender’s shock departure has left Leeds with only three recognised centre-backs in Liam Cooper, Kyle Bartley and Pontus Jannson with the latter duo on loan respectively from Swansea City and Torino.
After the closure of FIFA’s summer transfer window, clubs are now forbidden from undertaking any regular transfer activity until the new window opens in January.
The only exception is in signing free agents but there is no emergency loan window as in previous years.
Luke Ayling, signed from Bristol City in the summer, has previously played at centre-back but the 25-year-old is naturally a right back.
Giuseppe Bellusci, United’s other centre-back option, is on a season-long loan at Italian Serie A club Empoli.
Bamba, who was under contract at Elland Road until next summer, leaves after making 56 appearances in all competitions for Leeds after arriving from Italian outfit Palermo in January 2015, initially on loan.
A United club statement read: “The club would like to thank Sol for his contribution throughout his time here and wish him the very best of luck for the future.”
Leeds have been continually hindered by defensive problems over the past few seasons but back to back clean sheets in the 2-0 Championship win at Sheffield Wednesday which was followed by a 1-0 EFL Cup success at Luton Town raised hopes that United were becoming more solid at the back.
But the Whites again conceded three sloppy goals in last Saturday’s 3-1 Championship loss at Nottingham Forest in which Cooper and Bartley started at centre-back.
Six-foot-five Swedish international Jansson, signed on loan Torino, was an unused substitute and has since left for international duty.
His country face their first World Cup Qualifier at home to the Netherlands next Tuesday evening, four days before United return to Championship action at home to current surprise-package leaders Huddersfield Town.
Ivory Coast international Bamba was frequently kept out of the side by Cooper and Bellusci under former Whites head coach Steve Evans last season but retained the club captaincy throughout.
Evans’ replacement, current Whites head coach Garry Monk, then revealed that the Parisian would retain the club captaincy this season, despite doubts over whether he would start in light of the acquisition of Bartley, and now Jansson.
Monk said at the beginning of August: “Sol is obviously captain from last season and I think he does very well with that role so I see no reason to change it.
“But I also work with a group of what I call will be ‘leaders’ that work from within on a daily basis and have as much leadership as possible.
“But of course Sol was the captain from last year and I see no reason to change that.
“I think he does very well at that job and has a good relationship with the group which is important as a captain so that’s what it will be from the start of the season.”
Leeds are currently fourth-bottom after picking up four points from their first five games.
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