DIRECTOR of football Victor Orta backed Luke Ayling to become a Premier League player with Leeds United after signing a new four-year contract with the Whites.
Ayling has tied himself to Elland Road until 2021 after finalising discussions over an improved deal.
The popular defender had just under two years remaining on the contract he signed when he joined Leeds from Bristol City last year but his consistent form over 58 appearances has earned him a lengthy extension.
The right-back, whose extension comes ahead of a meeting with his former club Bristol City at Ashton Gate on Saturday, has made a major impression at Elland Road with effective box-to-box performances.
And Orta believes that Ayling’s best is still yet to come at Leeds with the Spaniard believing that the 26-year-old can become “a top-flight footballer” and achieve that objective at Leeds.
“Luke has impressed on the pitch but also off the pitch too,” said Orta.
“He is a leader and a very good person as well, I believe that if he continues to improve the way he has in the past 18 months, then he will be a top- flight footballer and I am confident we can go on that journey together.
Revealing his delight at signing his new deal, Ayling beamed: “I’m buzzing to have signed and now you are stuck with me for another four years,” Ayling told LUTV. “It is great to finally get it done, we have been speaking since late August, but obviously there has been a lot going on with the transfer window.
“My baby has been born here, I’ve bought a house nearby and this really feels like home now.
“Obviously when I signed, a few people didn’t know me, but I knew I could play at this level, I’ve come in and tried my best and given my all in every game and I think this is why the fans like me.
“Since joining I feel like I’ve held the right-back spot to myself and fought some really good full-backs off and hopefully I can keep doing it. In the last 18 months I feel I’ve been in the best form of my career, barring the last few games, but I’m sure I will get back to that level.
“We’re going in the right direction, it shows the owner cares about the future of the club, he’s bought the ground back, the training ground has been done up and players are getting long contracts, so it shows he is here for the long run.”