Pontus Jansson was named to the SkyBet Championship Team of the Season in March of 2017, and it was well-earned, as he had dominated opposing strikers all year, and was the best defender on a strong backline that helped Leeds United to a 7th place finish. Coming into 2017/18, he was clearly the best defender on Leeds’ roster and was expected to anchor the defense for yet another season.
Like so many others on Leeds, Jansson’s play really began to dip down the stretch of the season when Leeds started struggling. During the latter half of the season, his passing became very erratic, in some games it was on, and in others it was pretty horrible. He also had problems his aerial defense against set pieces and corners, but the rest of the defense had problems with this all year, so it is a little unfair to single him out. Leeds tied for 4th-most set piece goals allowed with 17, and this is made even more disheartening by the fact that they were middle of the table in open play goals allowed. If they had focused more on defending set pieces during the season, the defense could have been much better.
Statistically, Jansson had an average year, but certainly below average by his standards. He was 14th in total tackles and 21st in tackles per 90 minutes, but that is just among center backs, not the entire Championship. At 83.2%, his passing percentage was phenomenal, but that was just 12th among center backs. Despite his obvious regression, Jansson is still a wonderful defender who simply had a down year, and was often surrounded by subpar defenders like Matthew Pennington and Laurens de Bock.
An angry Pontus Jansson has made it clear to the Swedish press that he wants to play in the Premier League but he wants to do it with #lufc . He feels Leeds saved his career. He is eternally grateful & as long as he plays for the club he will do his utmost for it. pic.twitter.com/F0fs9nMnjg— Adam Pope (@APOPEY) June 6, 2018
Final Season Grade: B-
Despite his play this season, Jansson will still be looked to for leadership and Premier League level play in the upcoming year. He proved that even when he is not playing in top form he is still a great defender who can be relied upon. Hopefully when surrounded by Bielsa’s replacements, he can prove to be one of, if not the best, center back in the Championship. Lastly, Jansson also reconfirmed his commitment to Leeds after fans went a bit berserk following his comments about desiring to play in the top flight, and hopefully will be ready to return to Elland Road after an already successful World Cup for Sweden.