This stings more than a little.
Kyle Bartley is set to join West Bromwich Albion from Swansea City this weekend in a deal that is anywhere from £3.5 to £6 million, depending on the source.
Kyle Bartley to West Brom. Should be confirmed over the weekend.https://t.co/HDT2myVN62— Phil Hay (@PhilHayYEP) July 13, 2018
So will Leeds United rue the day they let Bartley go to West Brom?
Earlier in the summer, it appeared that there was interest from Bartley to go back to Leeds after an underwhelming season at Swansea that ended in the Welsh club’s relegation from the Premier League. And while it appeared that the club was interested in bringing him back, the sticking point always seemed to be from the Swansea side and whatever fee they felt that Bartley was worth and even if they wanted to let him leave.
However, since Marcelo Bielsa has taken over at Leeds, the interest from Leeds on bringing Bartley back into the fold seemed to have grown cold. And if it’s because Bartley isn’t what Bielsa is looking for in a central defender, then it’s understandable.
It’s just that every Leeds fan remembers the rock-solid defensive partnership of Bartley and Jansson during the 2016-17 season and how that team came as close to the playoffs and promotion as any team has since Leeds were relegated almost 15 years ago. And while that team crashed back to earth near the end of the season, meaning that Leeds slipped out of the playoff spots, it was still a magical run for most Leeds fans.
That magic can’t be brought back, can it? Bartley brought the best out of Jansson and Ayling, and that defence was one of the stingiest in the Championship, a sharp contrast to the leaky defence that allowed far too many goals last season.
Perhaps another deal is in the works and Bielsa has a plan to make this team play inspired, attacking football and Leeds will walk the league. Or perhaps the strength of the partnership between Jansson and Bartley would have been lost to the mists of time, as the memories of how things used to be cloud the reality that each of them is older and Bartley is coming off of two injuries last season.
But it still feels as if Leeds are somehow missing out by not bringing Bartley back to Elland Road. Maybe it will work out in the end, but if it doesn’t, there will be a lot of questions asked as to why Leeds didn’t try harder to make it work.