Tug-of-war over wanted Leeds United man as relegated club reportedly join race and transfer priority revealed

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Leeds United defender Luke Ayling will leave Elland Road on a free transfer this summer and is reportedly sought by more than loan club Middlesbrough who remain keen to sign the 32-year-old to a permanent deal.

Ayling spent the second half of the 2023/24 season on loan at the Riverside Stadium, receiving rave reviews for his performances on the right-hand side of Michael Carrick's defence. The experienced full-back registered more assists than any other player in the English Football League since the turn of the year and expressed his desire to remain on Teesside for the foreseeable future following Boro's final game of the season just shy of a fortnight ago.

According to the Northern Echo, though, Boro are yet to agree terms with the popular Leeds figure, while Birmingham City are also said to have entered the race for his signature. The Blues succumbed to relegation from the Championship on the final day and will look to rebuild in League One next term. Chris Wilder's Sheffield United are also named as potential suitors as they prepare for 2024/25 in the second tier.

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Ayling boasts a wealth of experience, including over 500 appearances across England's top three tiers, 93 of which were in the Premier League and remains based in North Yorkshire with his young family. Talks are already understood to have taken place between Boro and Ayling's representatives with the player named a top priority for Carrick this summer.

"Signing Ayling on a permanent deal is seen as a crucial piece of the summer jigsaw after the defender's hugely impressive half season loan at the Riverside," the Northern Echo reports.

The summer transfer window for EFL clubs opens on Friday, June 14, however Ayling's contract with Leeds runs until the 30th of that month and will be free to join a new club on July 1.

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