By Kevin Phillips

18th Jun, 2020 | 7:15am

'I rate him' - Exclusive: Leeds backed for 'Shrewd' signing by Phillips after big development

Kevin Phillips claimed Daniel Ayala would be a “shrewd signing” for Leeds United as the Middlesborough defender nears his exit from the club.

Speaking exclusively to Football Insider correspondent Dylan Childs, the former Sunderland and West Brom striker suggested the 29-year-old can rediscover his best form at Elland Road after a difficult time of late.

Ayala is out of contract at the end of the month and he has now refused to play for the club in their remaining nine fixtures are an “insulting” contract offer.

The former Liverpool and Norwich player was open to a new deal at the Riverside but it is almost certain that he will now become a free agent on 1 July.

Football Insider revealed last week that Leeds had made the Spanish centre-half one of their top targets this summer as they look to bolster the heart of their defence.

When asked by Football Insider if the Spanish defender would be a welcome addition to Marcelo Bielsa’s side, Phillips said: “I have rated Daniel Ayala for a while.

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“It has been tough for him at Middlesborough over the last few years because the team hasn’t done well. He’s had a few injuries and has been put under pressure but he generally comes out on top.

“I wouldn’t say it would be a fantastic signing for Leeds but I think it would be a shrewd one.

“He has great experience off the pitch as well as on it. I think he is a good player and when you play with better players you shine a bit more.

“If Leeds go up next year they will not be winning as many games as this year but generally he would be playing with better players.

“A smart signing if they can get him in on the right money.”

In other Leeds United news, Noel Whelan claims Luke Ayling faces a huge tis against ‘brilliant’ Cardiff ace this weekend.