Neil Warnock’s transfer priority with Middlesbrough this summer is pretty clear.
Last season saw the Teessiders put in plenty of good performances, but when it came to grinding out results on a consistent basis the club fell somewhat short of the standard needed if they’re to break into the Championship’s play-off spaces.
Few can argue that Middlesbrough have some players of real talent, and while fans will be hoping to bring in some more attacking flair ahead of the new season there’s one key trait that Warnock is looking for from his players this term.
Warnock went on the record numerous times last term to lament the lack of leadership within his squad.
That doesn’t mean that he doesn’t have model professionals who can lead by example, players such as Dael Fry, Sam Morsy, Jonny Howson and Paddy McNair all fall into that category.
What they’re missing is a selection of players who will lead from the front on the pitch and take on the role of being a captain for club, regardless of whether they’re wearing the armband.
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That’s why this week’s development around Sol Bamba has been really interesting.
The 36-year-old is training with Middlesbrough at Rockliffe Park after Neil Warnock offered him the chance to build up his fitness ahead of the new season.
The suggestion is that Bamba is purely there as a kind gesture from his former boss, but if you look a little bit deeper then you can perhaps see a player who would fill a sizeable hole for Middlesbrough.
Given Bamba’s age it seems unlikely that he’ll be playing 46 games for any club next term but the defender is arguably the most natural leader that the Championship has had to offer in recent years.
A spell with Leicester City earlier in his career started his English adventure, while 18 months with Leeds United was followed up by five years with Cardiff City as Bamba established himself as a club legend in South Wales.
Warnock could do with cover in central defence and given the club’s desire to bring in a proven leader who can add an influential voice to the dressing room then I’d certainly encourage Middlesbrough to consider giving the defender a chance to make an impact at the Riverside Stadium in the season ahead.