Leeds United: Has dropping Sam Byram ruined team’s creativity?

Sam Byram has been at the centre of a contract dispute

Sam Byram has been at the centre of a contract dispute

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Sam Byram is Leeds United’s best creator of chances this season, despite having not started either of Leeds’ last two games.

The 22-year-old has played 16 key passes this campaign, each of which created an opportunity for a team-mate.

By way of comparison, Stuart Dallas, who has two assists to his name, has created 11 chances. Chris Wood and Lewis Cook have also created 11.

Leeds have struggled for goals since Byram was dropped by manager Uwe Rosler, scoring none against either Middlesbrough or Birmingham City.

In part, Byram’s exclusion seems to be as a result of a falling out with owner Massimo Cellino, who criticised the young star for his unwillingness to agree fresh terms with The Whites. Leeds have offered him an extended deal on reduced wages.

Cellino told Sky Sports: “Sam Byram is the only one that maybe thinks Leeds is too small for him.

“He maybe thinks he deserves to be in a bigger team and a bigger club and maybe he’s right. But when I hear that a player from Leeds, with his agent, that he thinks that Leeds is not big enough for him, that he wants something bigger, I felt really embarrassed.

“He didn’t sign the new contract and he won’t sign it anymore. He’s been offered a contract a few times, he didn’t want to sign and I am deeply offended.

“I can’t believe that we’ve fallen out with it. I am so hurt inside that if he comes asking for a contract I would prefer to sign someone else.”

That begs the question over whether the contract dispute could be hindering Leeds’ chances of success this season, especially given that Byram has been one of the club’s best performers over the last few seasons, barring a poor run of form at the beginning of this year.

Leeds have looked to replace Byram by bringing in winger Will Buckley, but he failed to create a single chance on his debut against Birmingham City.

On the other hand, Jordan Botaka, another option on the right-wing, had a good cameo appearance against Birmingham, and there is a sense that he could come to the fore the more he adapts to the division.

As it stands though, Leeds are leaving a proven chance creator on the bench, something that may be difficult to justify given their struggles since the start of the season.

Byram is not going to leave until at least January and could be at the club until the end of the season, even if he does not sign a new deal. It does not make sense not to use him, especially given the clear impact he can have on the pitch.

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