By Harry Sykes
Garry Monk has revealed that he discovered Pontus Jansson while he was on the Swansea substitute’s bench.
The Leeds manager explained in an interview with BBC Radio Leeds that he was blown away by Jansson’s performance for his former club Malmo in a Europa League double-header in August 2013.
The Sweden international lined up in the centre of defence for Malmo in both games, while Monk was an unused substitute for Swansea in the second of the encounters in Sweden.
“We played Malmo over two legs and Pontus Jansson played in that game,” Monk explained to BBC Radio Leeds, as quoted by the BBC Leeds live matchday blog (Monday, 2.27pm). “Of course, at that time, I was a player, and being a centre half, I always, whenever we played opposition and I wasn’t playing, would look at the other centre halves, to see how they were playing, to see if I thought they were good players or if they made mistakes.
“And I remember him from those games. I remember thinking at the time that I thought he was a good player, along with the partner he was playing with.”
The scouting mission four years ago laid the early foundations for Monk to bring Jansson to Leeds from Serie A last summer.
The Yorkshire giants rescued the centre-back from a disappointing spell at Torino by signing him on a season-long loan that has paid huge dividends.
Jansson, 26, has been a colossus at the back for Monk’s promotion hopefuls and was last week named in the Football League team of the season.
Leeds announced in January that they have agreed to sign the Swede on a permanent deal for £3.5million when his loan expires in the summer.
“Recruiting Pontus – having Kyle Bartley and Liam Cooper here already – I knew that would leave us with strong centre backs,” Monk added to BBC Radio Leeds. “We had really good options there. Of course, you would like a fourth option, but other reasons come in.
“Having that strength, especially in the middle of your defence, with those three, has led to us having some really good performances defensively, and keeping the amount of clean sheets we have has given the team a platform and a solid base to build from.”
Jansson has made 32 league appearances for Leeds and established a formidable partnership with fellow loanee Bartley in the back four.
The duo have been key to the Yorkshire club’s impressive campaign and have laid the foundations for a concerted promotion challenge.
Leeds fell out of the top six for the first time in months on Monday when they fell to a shock 1-0 home defeat to Wolves, but remain in the mix for one of the play-off places.
Fulham climbed to sixth following their 3-1 win over Aston Villa but are ahead of Monk’s side only on goal difference.
In other Leeds United transfer news, a stunning £14million bid is being prepared as deal edges closer with Premier League big hitters.