Ezgjan Alioski joined Leeds United on an undisclosed transfer fee from FC Lugano in Switzerland this past offseason. He was third in both assists (14) and goals scored (16) in the Swiss top division, and seemed to be a much needed impact signing for Leeds. His signing was announced in tandem with Samuel Saiz’s, and all of a sudden, Leeds had a fantastic attacking corps of Pablo Hernandez, Saiz, Alioski and striker Chris Wood. Fans became hopeful that the attack could be more balanced, as it had relied too much on Wood’s scoring the previous year.
OFFICIAL: Leeds have signed Samuel Saiz from SD Huesca and Ezgjan Alioski from FC Lugano on four-year deals for undisclosed fees. pic.twitter.com/fGgk8xuYW3— TransferNewsCentral (@TransferNewsCen) July 14, 2017
Alioski started out the season with an assist to Chris Wood in his debut for The Whites, helping Leeds to a 3-2 win over Bolton. From there, he had a decent run of form, but failed to contribute to the scoresheet, recording only one assist and one goal in the next 15 matches. However, starting with a 3-1 loss to Brentford, Alioski went on a 6 game tear in November and December, tallying 4 goals and 2 assists, eventually being Leeds’ player of the month for November. Unfortunately, as Leeds’ form dropped off at the start of 2018, so did Alioski’s, and he only scored twice more for the rest of the season. Alioski proved to be a solid contributor to the offense, being third on the team in dribbles with 63, first in shots with 88, tied for third in goals with 7, and third in assists with 5. His worst stat was certainly passing, with only 69% of his passes completed, 24th on the team.
Though known for being a left-footed winger who plays primarily on the right, Thomas Christiansen decided to try Alioski on the left wing, which ended with poor results. His shot production dropped from 2.7 shots per game to 1.8 shots per game, and did not score while on the left wing. Additionally, his pass completion percentage dropped to a dreadful 64% while on the left side. This failed experiment under Christiansen did nothing to help his job security, and the Danish manager would be fired soon after Alioski returned to the right wing.
Final Season Grade: B
Though he was nominated for Leeds Player of the Year, Ezgjan Alisoki was never really a vital contributor to Leeds’ campaign. The 26 year-old performed well at times, but also had a tendency to disappear during matches. Outside of Pablo Hernandez, the attack was pretty dull this year, and more consistency from Alioski would have certainly helped. However, it is reasonable to assume that the incompetent forwards did not give him a good enough outlet to help him create offensive chances. If Leeds are able to secure the services of a top-tier striker this offseason, hopefully Alioski can become more involved and help Leeds reach the playoffs and perhaps the Premier League.
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