Neil Warnock has a pretty clear idea of what he’s looking to build at Middlesbrough this summer.
The Teessiders showed glimpses of promise over the last 12 months with the 72-year-old putting the building blocks in place of a disciplined unit that can pick up points against any side in the Championship.
While there were minor tweaks to be made to the team of last year it is clear where Warnock is looking to improve the team and where he is happy.
Recruiting attacking talent seems to be the priority for Middlesbrough this summer, but while that’s going to be a must for the new campaign, it’s also key that the club keep hold of their star men.
Dael Fry is one player who has been widely linked with a move away from the Riverside Stadium with Football League World exclusively revealing that Brentford had joined the hunt for the 23-year-old alongside Leeds United, Burnley, Wolves and Southampton.
While no fee has been discussed recently, Middlesbrough did turn down an £8million offer from Burnley back in 2019 which suggests that any move for the player would need to be in excess of £15million for the Teessiders to even consider it.
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Club chairman Steve Gibson is adamant that he won’t be allowing any of his best players to leave the club at any cost – something that is admirable as Neil Warnock looks to build the best team possible.
But it’s important that the club operate with their heads and not their heart.
Fry is a Middlesbrough lad and so to lose a player like that would undoubtedly be a big blow, but the Teessiders need to look at the bigger picture.
Like many others in the Championship Middlesbrough are in a tough financial position right now and with a focus on strengthening the playing squad it’s evident that the club will need funds if they’re to improve.
Losing a player of the influence of Fry is far from ideal, but if the club can attract a fee of £15-£20million then that could go a long way to rebuilding the squad.
If spent wisely that sum could easily bring in five or six good players at Championship level, including a high-quality replacement for the club’s talisman.
It remains to be seen whether Middlesbrough will be tempted to sell the player this summer but the message to the club must be to think long and hard about any offers, as such a substantial transfer fee could be a real blessing for the club over the next 12 months in the transfer market.