Former Leeds United man makes Luke Ayling future prediction ahead of uncertain summer

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Luke Ayling is expected to be released by Leeds United at the end of the Championship season

Luke Ayling won't be short of suitors when his Leeds United contract expires this summer, believes former White Carlton Palmer. Ayling, who has been on loan at Middlesbrough since the January transfer window, is preparing to become a free agent this summer, bringing an end to his eight-year association with Leeds.

The right-back has already been linked with a move to Sheffield United, with Alan Nixon claiming the Blades could make a move for the 32-year-old this summer as they ready themselves for life back in the Championship. However, Middlesbrough could also make a push to secure Ayling beyond the end of the campaign, given he has started every available game since making the switch.

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Ayling has played a key role in the club's strong recent form and while they have just missed out on a play-off place this time around, Michael Carrick could see Ayling as someone who could help drive a promotion push next time around. Either way, Palmer doesn't think the Leeds man will be a free agent for very long with his experience and leadership seen as valuable commodities.

“Everybody talks about his character, even Daniel Farke said he’s one of the best professionals around and you need some experienced players around," Palmer told Football League World.

"You look at Sheffield United when they got promoted, you had the experience of the centre forward [Billy Sharp], who was all of Sheffield United. He was brilliant with the young players, he was still able to come on to the pitch and have an impact. But they kept him in and around the building, and he was able to come on and still have an impact.

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“Luke is only 32, so he’s not old, he's still a fit lad, and he gives his all. We'll have to see at the end of the season whether Middlesbrough offer him a new deal."

He continued: “I'd be very surprised if Middlesbrough weren’t looking to offer Luke an extension of his contract for one more season given that they want to get promotion. But I think also Luke will have plenty of offers; he won't be short.”

Ayling is one of several high profile players approaching the end of their current deal at Elland Road. Of course, the futures of Robin Koch and Stuart Dallas have already been decided with Koch set to make his loan at Eintracht Frankfurt permanent, while Dallas has announced his retirement from the game due to injury.

However, club captain Liam Cooper is also in the final few months on his deal and a decision must be made there, one way or the other. The 32-year-old has been with Leeds since 2014 but his game time has been severely limited this season under Farke, making just eight Championship starts.

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Decisions must be made on the futures of Jamie Shackleton and Sam Byram, too, as their deals tick down, while Ian Poveda, who is currently on loan at Sheffield Wednesday, looks set to leave the club on a free.