Leeds United confirmed on Monday night that Swedish defender Pontus Jansson left the club to join fellow Sky Bet Championship side Brentford on a three-year deal for a fee rumoured to be in the region of £5.5 million. Much has been said over the past few days about the reasons for his departure and the reasons for the rift between Bielsa but now is the time to put the infighting behind us and remember Pontus for everything he has done for the club and everything he meant to the Leeds United fans.
Jansson joined from Torino on a season long loan in August 2016 making his league debut on 10th September against Huddersfield town. He quickly impressed, picking up his first man of the match award in the two nil victory over Cardiff City a week later. On 5th November Jansson scored his first goal for Leeds against Norwich City with a header in a 3–2 victory at Carrow Road. His performances at the end of 2016 lead to him picking up the Football League Championship Player of the Month Award for December 2016. Jansson was also named in the Sky Bet Championship Team of the Season and EFL Team of the Season for 2016-2017.
In July 2017 Jansson’s move became permanent for a fee of £3.5 million. A fiery and dominant defender his qualities are undeniable. Football League awards team of the season in his first season and PFA team of the year last season, he is undoubtedly one of the top defenders in the league. Last season he was top for average tackles per game (2.61), second for duels won (9.3), third for interceptions (2.48) and fifth for accurate passes (53). No disrespect to Cooper and Berardi but Jansson was best defender by a way, he was on a different level.
But it’s not just his abilities on the pitch which meant the Leeds fans took him to heart and made him a cult hero. All you need to be a hero in the eyes of the Leeds United fans is a little bit of talent and a lot of passion, and Jansson has plenty of passion. Be it his fist pumps to the crowd, his exuberant celebrations or sweary post-match interviews Jansson has always ‘got it’, what it feels like to be a Leeds United fan and what it means to play for this great club. In return the fans have loved him too, magic hat and all.
But it is probably those traits which endeared him to the Leeds fans so much which lead to his fallout with Bielsa, summed up in the game against Aston Villa. With every Leeds fan pleading with the team not to allow Villa to score only one player tried to stop it happening, Pontus Jansson. His final act of defiance? An act driven by passion, an act that every Leeds United fan could understand. To the very end he ‘got it’ and Leeds United fans got him. Perhaps in these wilderness years no single player has done more to reunite the team and the fans, it’s a shame that same unity didn’t exist between Jansson and the management.
Clarke leaving was sad, but let’s face it, he was a fringe player and will be back on loan next season. To the fans Jansson was the beating heart of the team, an embodiment of their own passion out there on the pitch. Despite his flaws I’m gutted he is leaving and like every Leeds United fan I want to thank him for everything he has done for our club, he will leave a gaping hole in the hearts of Leeds fans.
Farewell and thank you Pontus