Middlesbrough are hot on the trail of a number of strikers but one man appears to be at the top of the club’s shopping list.
Reports from Teesside Live have claimed that Rotherham United’s Michael Smith is ‘a known target’ for the club after an impressive campaign in the Championship last term, while Bristol City are also keen.
The 29-year-old is entering the final year of his contract at The New York Stadium and after suffering relegation with the Millers it seems that he’s keen on a return to the second tier of English football this summer, providing the club’s valuation is met.
There are plenty of reasons why Smith tops Warnock’s list of potential targets, but what will the striker offer the club? We take a look at the key numbers from last season.
Considering the fact that it was a campaign that ended in disappointment for Rotherham United, Michael Smith certainly came away with plenty of credit.
The 29-year-old was a key player for Paul Warne’s side and regularly operated as both a lone striker and as part of an attacking duo.
However it’s his all-round play that makes him a real handful.
Smith made 46 appearances for Rotherham in all competitions last term, scoring 10 goals in the process – a tally that is his best ever in the Championship and second best behind an impressive campaign for Swindon Town back in 2014-15.
While he’s certainly a strong attacker in the EFL, I don’t think anyone would peg him as a natural goalscorer with his expected goals tally this term being just 12.13.
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Ten goals in the last campaign is nothing to be sniffed at considering Rotherham were battling to avoid relegation, but what stands out is his ability to bring his teammates into play.
Smith picked up three assists last term and regularly contributes by creating opportunities for his teammates by making intelligent runs and looking to take central defenders out of the game.
The 29-year-old is a strong presence in attack and won 27.9% of his offensive duels over the course of the campaign, while also boasting an impressive shots on target percentage of 43.1%.
Given that Neil Warnock historically likes his attackers to be team players rather than ruthless goal-machines, it’s easy to see why Michael Smith’s all-round game could see him be the ideal fit for Middlesbrough next term.
With goals and assists to his name – while contributing to the team effort – Middlesbrough could be on the right track to bring in an effective operator to solve their attacking woes.