Date: 10th August 2018 at 6:00pm
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owner Andrea Radrizzani must not cave in and offload on loan before the window shuts.

As far as the United faithful go, that is a statement of the bleeding obvious given how key the defender is to Marcelo Bielsa’s plans.

But Leeds supporters also never expected Ronaldo Vieira to go, and would have been confident their club would have snubbed interest in the academy product before his shock £7million exit to Sampdoria earlier this month.

Interest in Ayling, the 26-year-old right-back who signed a new deal last October that runs until 2021, is genuine.

The reliable Football Insider report West Brom made an approach for him on deadline day that was dismissed out of hand by the Yorkshire giants.

However, Leeds are not out of the woods yet, as far as their key players go in this summer’s window.

Championship clubs can complete loan signings up until 31 August – United are themselves in the market for a centre-back and central midfielder – while European clubs can also bring in new recruits for another 21 days.

Owner Radrizzani talks a good game, but his PR spin does not mask the fact the club offloaded Chris Wood and Vieira as soon as decent offers came in.

You can bet your life he would be interested if a £5million-plus offer for Ayling was also on the table.

That would be a wretched move for Bielsea’s team building and the club’s promotion hopes.

Ayling’s second season was nowhere near as good as his excellent first one before an ankle injury ended it four months early, but he is one of the best players in the Championship in his position and is one of the few players in Leeds’ squad with the potential to take the step up to the top tier.

Selling him would send out a wretched message.