This article is part of Football League World’s ‘The Verdict’ series, which provides personal opinions from the FLW writers regarding the latest breaking news, teams, players, managers, potential signings and more…
Middlesbrough are reportedly interested in signing Preston North End striker Ched Evans this summer.
According to The Sun on Sunday (04/04, page 61), Neil Warnock is keen to sign the 32-year-old on a free transfer, with his deal at Deepdale expiring at the end of the season.
Evans, who joined North End from Fleetwood in January, has since scored three goals in 14 games for the club. 10 goals have been scored over the course of the campaign.
With Britt Assombalonga set to leave Boro at the end of the season, Warnock will be keen to bolster his attacking options ahead of next season.
Here, we discuss Boro’s reported interest in the striker…
With Britt Assombalonga departing and Ashley Fletcher’s contract also running down, Boro definitely need a striker or two this summer.
Ched Evans though? I’m not sure, but they could definitely do worse.
I was extremely sceptical when he arrived at Preston North End from Fleetwood in January – I couldn’t wrap my head around the fact that Alex Neil wanted a 32-year-old with five goals in League One this season to lead the line as it smacked of desperation.
Evans though has surprised most PNE fans with his high-energy performances, notching three goals as well and even though the Lilywhites lost against Boro 2-0 last month and were down to 10 men for the majority of the match, Evans played well up-front and that may have caught Neil Warnock’s attention.
As a rotational option and on a free transfer, Evans would probably be a decent signing for a mid-table Championship club, but Boro would also have to go out and spend some money on a bit of quality that could get them into the Premier League as well.
This is not going to be a signing that would excite many Middlesbrough supporters, with Evans a player that is entering the final few years of his career. However, he has been showing some positive signs during his loan spell with Preston in the Championship and has been a real hand full upfront for the Lilywhites providing a presence in the final third and linking the play well at times.
Those are qualities that Warnock likes from his centre forwards, and if Middlesbrough’s budget is going to be a little stretched then Evan represents a cheaper option that could certainly do a job for them in the Championship next term. Although there will be some doubts over whether he would bring to the team the volume of goals they will need for promotion.
With Britt Assombalonga heading for the exit door, Boro need to invest in their forward line with maybe one or two additions. Evans is someone they could get and then have the resources left over to maybe bring in another striker to the Riverside.
It is therefore a move that makes sense from a financial perspective and also from the perspective of Warnock wanting a player who can do a job for next season. However, in terms of long-term planning it would be a signing that would be lacking and it would be unwise to hand him a contract longer than one or two years you feel at this stage in his career.
If you don’t get at least 15/20 on this Middlesbrough midfielder quiz, can you really call yourself a Boro fan?
I could see this being a good signing for Middlesbrough.
With Britt Assombalonga seemingly destined for the exit door at The Riverside Stadium, it does seem as though ‘Boro are going to need to add some firepower to their attacking ranks this summer.
Evans has been reasonably solid in a Preston side that has generally struggled for form since his arrival in January, suggesting he can still compete at Championship level, and his physicality means he could fit in well in a Neil Warnock side.
Indeed, Evans’ contract situation at Deepdale means he could be available as a free agent this summer, which could work well for ‘Boro in what is a challenging financial period for many clubs as well, meaning I do think this could be worth looking into for those in charge at The Riverside.