Kyle Bartley was a key part of Leeds United’s defense last season on loan from Swansea City. Fans everywhere urged the higher-ups to sign Bartley on a permanent deal, but the Swans made it clear that Bartley is a Swansea player and they want it to stay that way. Nevertheless, interest for the centre-back has never been higher. Crystal Palace, Stoke City, Middlesbrough, and Leeds have all been interested in taking Bartley off Swansea’s books. But which one would make the most sense?
Leeds United Firstly, I just wanna get it out of the way that this list isn’t in any specific order. I’m just picking which club I wanna write about and go with it, and I wanna cover Leeds first. We cool?
Competition: Pontus Jansson, Liam Cooper, Giuseppe Bellusci
If I had to mention Bellusci, that’s how dire the situation is at centre-back for Leeds. There’s a reason Kyle Bartley was basically treated as a Leeds player over the course of the season last year. He played some amazing football. Even becoming captain of the team as a loanee, I think everyone in the world would have thought Bartley would have signed for Leeds. He’s a cult hero here and would be welcome with open arms. In all seriousness, Bartley would almost certainly slot in alongside Pontus Jansson, with Liam Cooper there for depth. Bellusci is rumored to be on his way out of Leeds, so hopefully we can bring in reinforcements at centre-back, or else Thomas Christiansen will be forced to use Toumani Diagouraga at CB.
Competition: James Tomkins, Scott Dann, Damien Delaney
Frank de Boer’s Crystal Palace side has a talented pairing in James Tomkins and Scott Dann. Damien Delaney is 35 and Bartley would immediately jump over the Irishman on the depth chart. Things can always change, but in terms of playing time, this doesn’t look like its a good move. Maybe de Boer sees Bartley as the heir to Scott Dann’s CB throne? Either way, Crystal Palace finished dead even with Swansea in points last season, so some would call this a questionable/meh move.
Competition: Ben Gibson, Daniel Ayala, Dael Fry
Middlesbrough give Kyle Bartley the best chance at being a star. It sucks to say it, but that’s how I see it. A Ben Gibson-Kyle Bartley back line could provide a very good backbone to Boro’s hopes and dreams, but Middlesbrough fans better hope that Ben Gibson changes his mind and decides he wants to stay. If/when he does leave Kyle Bartley would, if nothing else, have job security at Boro. Another thing Middlesbrough have going for them: Garry Monk. During both the defender and the managers one year loan with Leeds United, Bartley spoke very highly of Garry Monk.
Maybe Boro will use that link to bait Bartley over, be it on loan or on a permanent deal. However, as if Leeds and Middlesbrough didn’t already have bad blood, that would only add more fuel to the fire. Let's hope this one doesn’t go through.
Competition: Ryan Shawcross, Marc Muniesa, Geoff Cameron, Phillip Wollscheid
If Bartley wants to stay in the Premier League, Stoke City is the place to go. Geoff Cameron is 32 and not the talent that he once was (sorry USMNT fans), so he can finally make a move back to America. I personally rate Bartley higher than Muniesa. Joining the Potters would give boss Mark Hughes a good problem to have in selecting who lines up next to captain Ryan Shawcross. Stoke have a lot of quality players on their roster, so this should be the move Bartley is aiming for if he wants to stay in the Premier League.
Where do I think he will go? It’s tough. I wish I could say Bartley returns to Leeds. I really hope it can happen, but I don’t think Bartley is a player of interest for the suits of the Thomas Christiansen Spanish regime. Most likely, I think Bartley will stay for now, and if anything demands a move in January. But if he was to move on from the Swans, as much as a great option Leeds United are, I gotta think joining Stoke City would be the way to go to further his career. The Summer Transfer Window isn’t close to shutting yet, so time will tell what team Kyle Bartley will don a jersey for come week 1 of the new season.