Leeds United captain Sol Bamba has left Elland Road after the close of the summer transfer window. The experienced Ivorian centre-back departs by mutual consent due to unspecified personal reasons.
Bamba started the first match of Garry Monk's tenure – a heavy 3-0 away defeat to Queens Park Rangers – on the opening day of the 2016/17 season and also featured as a second-half substitute during the subsequent EFL Cup first-round penalty shootout victory over a Fleetwood Town side managed by former boss Uwe Rosler.
He also played the full 90 minutes of a narrow home defeat by Birmingham City, but missed clashes with Fulham and Yorkshire rivals Sheffield Wednesday before playing in a narrow win against Luton Town. Bamba was not included in the matchday squad for last Saturday's (27 August) defeat to Nottingham Forest at the City Ground having fallen down the defensive pecking order.
"Leeds United can confirm that defender Sol Bamba has left the club by mutual consent due to personal reasons," the Championship club confirmed via a statement published on their official website.
"Bamba, who was under contract at Elland Road until next summer, featured 56 times in all competitions for United during his year-and-a-half stay... The club would like to thank Sol for his contribution throughout his time here and wish him the very best of luck for the future."
Bamba, whose list of previous employers features Paris Saint-Germain, Dunfermline, Hibernian, Leicester City and Trabzonspor, initially joined Leeds on loan from Sicilian Serie A outfit Palermo in January 2015. He made 19 appearances in total during that stint, impressing sufficiently under Neil Redfearn to earn a permanent two-year contract that included the option of an extra 12 months.
He went on to make a further 33 appearances last term and was officially appointed as captain by Rosler after skippering the side on several occasions during his initial loan spell and IN pre-season. The 31-year-old, who boasts 44 senior international caps for the Ivory Coast, was expected to depart before last night's transfer deadline. Middlesbrough, Newcastle United and Sunderland have all been linked with the player in the past, but suitors appeared few and far between this time.
Bamba's departure would appear to leave Leeds somewhat short of senior centre-backs, with only Swansea loanee Kyle Bartley, Torino's Pontus Jansson and Liam Cooper currently on the books. Any potential additions in that area will now have to come via the free agent market as the Football League's emergency loan window has now been scrapped.
The Whites, currently 21st in the table, entertain local rivals and surprise table-toppers Huddersfield Town following the international break. Their poor start to the new campaign led to reports that controversial owner Massimo Cellino was already considering sacking Monk, their sixth full-time head coach since June 2014. Leeds' only deadline day signing saw Irish midfielder Eunan O'Kane arrive from Bournemouth on a two-year deal for an undisclosed fee.