AT first glance, there would appear to be few similarities between Leeds United’s Swedish centre-back Pontus Jansson and new Macedonian winger Ezgjan Alioski.
Both, though, might just speak the same language on and off the football pitch. With both well versed in Italian, Jansson has vowed to take the potential new crowd-pleaser “under my wings” in his first season at Leeds.
Alioski became United’s ninth signing of the summer last week and few have set pulses racing as much as the Macedonian winger.
The 25-year-old scored his first goal in Leeds colours during Sunday’s 4-2 loss to La Liga side Eibar in which centre-back Jansson admits neither he nor his team were at their best.
The Swedish international started alongside new Everton loanee Matthew Pennington at centre-back but the Whites defence leaked in three goals before Jansson left the pitch when becoming injured. The Swede has since revealed the injury was nothing to worry about.
The defender is expected to rejoin his Whites team-mates when United return to training at Thorp Arch on Thursday after two days off following their ten-day tour of Austria. By then, Leeds - and Jansson - will have ten more days to familiarise themselves as a new-look squad and Jansson admits he has already been taken by another Italian-speaking recruit.
I think all of the players, they are all good. They make the quality even higher in this squad when it was good anyway in the season before.Pontus Jansson
“I think all of the players, they are all good,” Jansson said when asked about the club’s new signings. “They make the quality even higher in this squad when it was good anyway in the season before.
“Alioski is good. I like him. He speaks half Italian so I take him under my wings and help him into the team. He is a good guy also.”
Leeds are continuing their hunt for further signings and the club have already recruited one centre back in the shape of Pennington. Jansson believes the 22-year-old will prove a shrewd acquisition despite a difficult debut.
“He is good. I haven’t seem him so much before,” admitted Jansson. “We weren’t 100 per cent in the first half and it was tough for him to come because we weren’t 100 per cent there. But I think he will be good for us.”
Reflecting on the loss to Eibar, Jansson admitted: “The first half wasn’t good enough. We weren’t there mentally and physically, we were tired. It was difficult to say directly after the game what was wrong but we weren’t 100 per cent and it wasn’t good enough. But in the second half we were better, we played better football and scored two goals and that’s what we have to take away. Now we have a training week where we have to show our best and really prepare for the season and Oxford which is an important game for the season ahead.”
Leeds, though, must be prepared for the first two games without Jansson who will serve the second and third games of a three-match suspension, earned for picking up 15 yellow cards during his own first season at Leeds.
“That’s how it is and I have to be more disciplined this season,” said Jansson. “It’s something I have to learn from.”