Cardiff City’s resurgence under Neil Warnock last season has given several Bluebirds fans renewed optimism ahead of the new Championship campaign.
The South Wales began the campaign with Paul Trollope at the helm, yet just two wins from his first 11 league games in charge, alongside seven defeats, saw the club sit second from bottom at the start of October, and forced the hierarchy into a much-needed change.
And former Sheffield United and Queens Park Rangers chief Warnock came in and has had a stunning effect on the side, guiding them to 15 wins from his 35 league matches in charge, and thus leading them to a 12th place finish in the table.
And with a full pre-season and summer transfer window to follow, there is renewed optimism around the Cardiff City Stadium that they can bridge that 18-point gap to the play-off places next season, although serious reinforcements will be needed to aid them in their quest.
And one man they could look to sign, and indeed bring back to the club, is Wales international midfielder Joe Ledley, who is set to leave Crystal Palace at the end of the month.
The 30-year-old will see his contract at Selhurst Park come to a conclusion in the coming weeks, bringing the curtain down on a three-year stay in the capital, in which time he scored six goals in 96 games for the Eagles.
And given he’ll be available on a free, Warnock should look to do a deal with the Welshman to bring him back to Cardiff, seven years after he left the club.
And that’s because, although he has had injury issues in recent times, it’s clear that the £2.98 million-rated star (as per Transfermarkt) is still a quality footballer, and one who could make a huge difference to his former club next season.
The 30-year-old has played over 500 club games in his career and a further 73 at international level with Wales, and there won’t be many out-of-contract stars who are as vastly experienced as Ledley, and indeed as good on the ball and adept defensively as he is.
And he is also impacts things in the attacking third of the pitch as well, with 75 goals and 47 assists to his name during his career, and with ten of their 18 league defeats coming by the odd goal last term, the Bluebirds may need that extra bit of quality in the midfield, both offensively and defensively, to bridge that gap to the top six.
Ledley could provide that, and he’d also be going back to a club where he is loved by the fans, and one that paved the way for the career that he has since embarked upon at Celtic and Crystal Palace.
The midfielder came up through the ranks at Cardiff and then went on to play 256 times for the club, scoring 30 goals and becoming a fan favourite in the process, while earning several rave reviews and awards, including the Wales Club Player of the Year Award in 2007 and 2008, as well as an inclusion in the Championship Team of the Year in 2009.
Ultimately, some of Ledley’s best football came while he was playing for Cardiff, and given that he is in need of a fresh start somewhere to keep his career going at both club level and international, there won’t be many better places than going back to somewhere you’ve enjoyed and succeeded at before.
Thus, it’s a deal Warnock must look to get done this summer.