By Alex McLeish

8th Jul, 2021 | 2:15pm

Ex-manager: This may be the real reason 'nailed' Alioski quit Leeds

Alex McLeish has suggested Ezgjan Alioski may have felt forced out of Leeds United by the hunt for a “top” left-back this summer.

The former Scotland boss, speaking exclusively to Football Insider, suggested the Whites wanted to sign a natural defender to replace the “cult hero”.

Leeds confirmed on Monday (July 5th) the 29-year-old had become a free agent after his contract at Elland Road expired.

The Whites revealed they were unable to reach an agreement over new terms during negotiations with the North Macedonia international.

Leeds then announced the signing of left-back Junior Firpo from Barcelona on Tuesday (July 6th).

McLeish heralded Alioski for his transformation into a defender under Marcelo Bielsa.

Subscribe to Football Insider TV now

However, he suggested Leeds’ hunt for an upgrade forced him to consider his future.

McLeish told Football Insider’s Russell Edge: “He was a cult hero. I really did like him and I loved the transformation.

“Bielsa moved him to full-back instead of an out-and-out winger. Defensively, you have to kind of question him a wee bit but Alioski actually got that nailed as well.

“You have to credit Bielsa for transforming him into that type of player. He’s now got something else in his locker if he plays for another club.

“Leeds probably would be looking for a top player in that position. Hence, the reason why Alioski thinks: ‘Well, my time’s up here. I need to maybe look at something else.”

Alioski played 171 times as both a winger and a wing-back during his time at Elland Road.

He featured in all but two of the Whites’ Premier League games last term.

In other news, four Leeds United players expected to join new clubs as exits given green light.