‘I’m here to win the Championship’ vows Leeds United’s Pontus Jansson

Pontus Jansson.
Pontus Jansson.
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Pontus Jansson said he had come back to Leeds United “to win the Championship” after sealing a permanent move to Elland Road.

The Sweden international became a United player last weekend, completing his £3.5m transfer from Torino and signing a three-year deal after a highly impressive season on loan in England.

Jansson’s contract was finalised and signed in February and the move went through on time last Saturday despite a brief dispute between Leeds and Torino which required FIFA’s intervention and ended with United agreeing to pay the first instalment of Jansson’s fee early.

The centre-back took extra time off this summer after his wedding and a spell of international duty but he began pre-season training at Thorp Arch on Monday and said he had returned with the intention of redeeming Leeds’ dramatic failure to reach the play-offs last season.

Despite starting with a run of four points from their first six matches, United held an eight-point lead over Fulham with eight games to play but finished seventh, five points behind the London club, following a severe loss of form in the final month.

New head coach Thomas Christiansen admitted recently that his minimum target during his first year in charge was a top-six finish and Jansson said: “I’m here to win the Championship. I hope the others have the same goal as me.

“Last season was a good season. Leeds have been in trouble for the last 10 years and haven’t been in a stable position. We played good football and won the fans back. From the winter forwards, Elland Road was almost full for every game and every away game was fantastic.

“It was only the last few games where we missed out but hopefully this time we’ll be ready from the first game, not six or seven games into the season.

“For three weeks afterwards I was really down. It was hard because I said from the first day that I wanted to go to the Premier League. When we lost it in the last few games, of course it was tough. Now we have to look forward.”

Jansson’s telling performances drew the attention of Southampton amid speculation that the Premier League club would attempt to disrupt the defender’s permanent transfer to Leeds but United consistently maintained that their deal with Torino was watertight and Jansson duly took up a three-year deal on July 1. He and his wife found a new house on Thursday.

“It feels good,” Jansson said. “I started training on Monday, I’ve had a couple of sessions and I already feel much better. It feels good to be back.

“I like to be in England. I’ve said this since the first day. It feels to me almost like being in Sweden. We’ve found a house and I’m really happy to be here. I feel like I have an important role in this club.”

Jansson travelled home to Sweden immediately after the end of last season, undergoing an operation to remove his tonsils, and Leeds have undergone significant change in the meantime.

Garry Monk’s resignation as head coach was followed by the appointment of Christiansen, the former APOEL manager. Chairman Andrea Radrizzani completed a 100 per cent takeover of United in May and announced the repurchase of Elland Road last week.

Asked about Christiansen’s appointment, Jansson said: “I came in on Monday and I’ve only seen three training sessions so I haven’t seen so much difference (from Monk) yet.

“They’re both young and they want to play football from the back. I think it’s going to be really good with (Christiansen). It’s the type of football I like to play – to play from the back and hold it on the ground, not just kick it away. I think he has some good ideas.”

Jansson was left out of Wednesday’s behind-closed-doors friendly against Harrogate Town following his late return to training but said he was “really hoping” to feature at Guiseley today.

He will miss the first two games of the new season, however, as he serves the remainder of a three-match ban incurred for 15 yellow cards last term.

Jansson’s cautions including bookings for dissent and diving and the defender said: “It’s not good. It’s something I have to work on this year, to not take that many yellow cards.

“If it’s an important yellow card, when you have to stop a player and take one, then fine but not for arguing with the referee and other things like that.”

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