Leeds United favourite set for transfer move amid Sheffield United and Birmingham City interest

Leeds United defender Luke Ayling has revealed he is "close" to joining Middlesbrough on a permanent basis. The right-back left Elland Road in the January transfer window, joining Boro on loan for the remainder of the 2023/24 campaign.

Ayling has established himself as a firm fans' favourite at the Riverside Stadium. Supporters chanted his name on the final day as the experienced defender contributed two assists in Boro's 3-1 victory over Watford.

The 32-year-old is due to become a free agent this summer. There has been talk of interest from Sheffield United and Birmingham City.

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But Ayling has confirmed talks have taken place with Boro and expressed his desire to prolong his stay with the Championship club. He told BBC Tees: “I think things are close and I’m really excited about what the future holds. I don’t think it’s done yet, so I can’t say too much.

"But the last four months, I’ve loved being out there. It’s a great bunch of lads and I’ve loved being a part of it. It’s a young group, but that’s allowed me to come in and put my stamp on it. I’ve loved every moment of it.

"I was a little bit nervous when I first came because it had been a few months since I played. But from the first training session, the boys just took to me and I’ve loved every minute of it. We’ve fallen short of the play-offs this year, but it makes things exciting for next year because we’ve come so close. If we can keep our key players fit next year then I’m sure we’ll be up there.”

Ayling has weighed in with an impressive eight assists in 11 Middlesbrough matches. Head coach Michael Carrick said: “We’re trying to do something if we can. It’s not always straightforward, but certainly, with the impact that Luke has had, it’s something that we’re trying to do. It looks like the club has got under his skin, and I won’t hide away from that.

"It’s obvious how well he’s done and how much the supporters have taken to him. He’s an important part of the group. The way he is, his personality… That’s pretty clear to see.”