Middlesbrough are heading into a very important summer transfer window to build a squad capable of pushing for promotion to the Premier League.
Boro were untouchable at times in the second half of the season under Chris Wilder and demonstrated just how good they can be in FA Cup victories over Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur.
With Folarin Balogun, Andraz Sporar and Aaron Connolly returning to their parent clubs this summer there is plenty of room for manoeuvre in the final third for Wilder and Kieran Scott to look into.
Uche Ikpeazu and Chuba Akpom are heading back to Teesside, but it feels very unlikely that the duo will still be present come the lead-up to the season kicking off.
Josh Coburn and Duncan Watmore remain at the club, but would not ideally be first choice options if the club want to compete for automatic promotion.
We brought you the exclusive this morning that Middlesbrough are amongst a host of clubs interested in Reading’s Lucas Joao this summer.
Boro do need to address their striker contingent, but Joao is a risky option that would command high wages compared to the rest of the squad.
The 28-year-old is one of the best strikers in the division when fit, but that has not been the case for a substantial portion of his time in English football.
With only one year remaining on his contract with the Royals, his true value would not be reflected in regards to a transfer fee, but if he starts less than 60% of the club’s matches next season it is hard to justify it being a shrewd signing.
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Wilder has conducted some unconventional transfer business to say the least in the last few years, but Boro would be better off focusing their funds on a more reliable option.
The wages that Joao would take up on Teesside should be prioritised in other areas of the squad, for example left wing back if Wilder is to persist with a 3-5-2 formation.
Joao’s ability has never been in doubt, but with Boro’s forward line being thin as it is, signing him would be an unnecessary risk.