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Barrier emerges in Middlesbrough’s potential transfer pursuit to recruit defender

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Middlesbrough will only hand a deal to free agent Tommy Smith when Djed Spence’s future becomes clearer, according to the Northern Echo.

21-year-old Spence was previously thought to have been closing in on a move to Premier League outfit Tottenham Hotspur – but an agreement is yet to be agreed between the two sides with the Teesside club holding out for at least £20m for his services.

The England youth international is unlikely to be a regular starter at the Riverside Stadium during this upcoming season following the emergence of Isaiah Jones – but Chris Wilder’s side are still demanding a sizeable fee for one of their most valuable assets.

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With a deal for the Englishman likely to materialise at some point, this leaves Jones with Darnell Fisher for company, but the latter missed the whole of last season with a serious injury and is still quite a way off making a return yet, meaning Wilder’s men will need another option in this position.

Smith, who made 32 league appearances last term and recorded one goal and six assists in the process, was officially released on the expiration of his deal at Stoke City yesterday and with this, was able to play a part in today’s friendly against Bishop Auckland.

He could potentially be offered terms to make his stay at the Riverside permanent – but will need to be patient with the Spence saga still ongoing at this stage.

The Verdict:

You feel a lot of Boro’s transfer business this summer will depend on Spence’s sale – because they may not be able to do a huge amount in the transfer market this summer if they want to remain within the EFL’s financial rules.

If they can receive a decent chunk of Spence’s fee up front, that should give them the ability to secure some of their top targets because they would have more financial power than most in their division to get deals over the line.

In fact, you could even argue his sale could be the difference between promotion and relegation because a considerable eight-figure fee would give them the option to recruit some top-quality players up front.

Unfortunately, the likes of Aaron Connolly and Folarin Balogun just didn’t contribute enough and they may need to spend heavily in this area to give them the best chance of recruiting the players needed to fire them into the top six.

Smith is unlikely to demand a huge amount so the finances regarding this deal may not be the problem. Having Jones, Spence and Smith on the right throughout the 2022/23 campaign would limit the latter’s game time though, potentially why he would be reluctant to sign a contract at this stage.


A 22-year-old Reading FC fan and writer who graduated from the University for the Creative Arts this summer, with a degree in Journalism and Media Production. Other topics written about include politics, mental health and education.

ScoopDragon Football News Network

Article title: Barrier emerges in Middlesbrough’s potential transfer pursuit to recruit defender

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