Looking ahead to next season, it’s more than evident that numerous squad improvements are needed, if Leeds United are to mount any realistic challenge for promotion. The fact that two different managers couldn’t bring enough positive results throughout the 2017-18 campaign, perhaps says it all about the overall quality of the squad.

Arguably the best signing last summer was the permanent deal secured for Pontus Jansson, after his successful loan spell from Torino during the 2016-17 campaign, making the £3.5 million investment look like a shrewd piece of business. While those around him throughout the 2017-18 season have been less than impressive, the Swedish international has been one of the positives during a frustrating campaign for the team, consistently producing solid displays.

It’s no surprise that, taking a glance at the corresponding whoscored.com numbers, Jansson was statistically United’s best player this season. The 27-year-old registered an average match rating of 7.12 over 42 Championship games, while also clocking up the highest number of minutes on the pitch, with 3,560 in total. Equally impressive when compared to players who featured in twenty matches or more, the towering centre-back also achieved the highest number of aerial duels won, plus the best passing percentage in the team.

As the club’s only representative at the 2018 FIFA World Cup this summer in Russia, no doubt Leeds fans will be wishing Jansson the best of fortune at the tournament. Sweden are considered a 150/1 longshot to lift the famous trophy, according to the latest outright odds for the World Cup at williamhill.com ahead of the action commencing in June. However, they will still be hoping to qualify for the knockout stages, despite competing in a tough group that features Germany, Mexico and South Korea.

No matter how Sweden fare at the World Cup, after what will be a short but richly deserved break, hopefully, Jansson will return to Leeds full of confidence and free of injuries, ready to help the team in pre-season preparations for the 2018-19 campaign in the Championship. As such an important defensive backbone, he’s a player the club must do everything in their power to retain, even after having penned a new five-year contract last October.

Transfer rumours have inevitably been circulating in recent months, speculating about how long Jansson might remain at Elland Road. Amidst reports that West Ham United and Burnley are considering bids for the defender, according to the Yorkshire Evening Post, the player wants some assurances from the club about their future plans. However, the Swede has suggested to media in his home country that he’s content to stay put, for now at least.

Nevertheless, the club’s actions in the transfer market will clearly have a huge bearing on what Janssen decides. He’s undoubtedly an ambitious player, with his drive and determination making him a cult favourite with Leeds fans. Nevertheless, a lack of significant improvements when it comes to strengthening the squad this summer could prompt him to take his step up to the English top flight now, rather than chance waiting on the possibility of doing so with his current club, which is by no means guaranteed.

As one of the key performers for Leeds over the last two seasons, Janssen is certainly a player the club should be looking to keep, a solid foundation on which to build if genuine progress is to be made and a serious assault on promotion next season is to be achieved. Though, his situation could soon change if the club is tempted by a sizeable enough bid. Arguably, rejecting such an approach might demonstrate that the current leadership is serious about climbing back to the Premier League.