The final few hours of the transfer window can often throw up some surprising transfer links, as clubs scramble around to find any player they can who might be able to find the position they need, and that is what makes Blackburn Rovers’ reported pursuit of Middlesbrough goalkeeper Aynsley Pears unusual, as well as unexpected.
Rovers have already been linked with a move for Pears earlier in the summer window, but had already brought in Thomas Kaminski from Gent as their new number one by the time it was reported that the Lancashire club had seen a £200,000 bid for the 22-year-old rejected by ‘Boro.
The signing of Antonis Stergiakis from Slavia Sofia in a move late in the international transfer had, in the eyes of many, ended Rovers’ business in the goalkeeping department, with the Greek youth international seemingly possessing the required experience to offer cover and competition for Kaminski.
However, it seems Rovers were not done there, with reports emerging late on Wednesday night to suggest that the Lancashire club are set to return with another attempt to bring Pears to Ewood Park.
Given the previous recruitment of Kaminski and Stergiakis, it could be argued that, with two strong options between the posts already in place at Ewood Park, this fresh move for Pears may not be entirely necessary.
But taking a closer at Blackburn’s recent history with the men with the all-important gloves, and the reason behind their pursuit of a third goalkeeper this summer, does become somewhat clearer.
The somewhat unexpected departure of David Raya to Brentford last summer left Rovers searching for a new number one, with the club’s only senior goalkeeper at that point, Jayson Leutwiler, largely untested in the Championship.
Eventually, Christian Walton was brought in on loan from Brighton, but with Rovers supposedly missing out on two permanent ‘keeper signings in the summer of 2019, the expiration of both Walton’s loan and Leutwiler’s contract at the end of last season left them without a single senior ‘keeper coming into the current transfer window.
Now however, bringing in a third goalkeeper on a permanent deal, as Rovers are seemingly looking to do with Pears, ought to ensure that there will be no point in the near future where they are going into a transfer window without at least one senior ‘keeper on their books, and it isn’t just from a numerical perspective that this would be a benefit to Blackburn, but a football one as well.
Speaking earlier on Thursday in response to those emerging rumours around another goalkeeper signing, Rovers boss Tony Mowbray spoke about his desire to build a stable of competitive options in the goalkeeping department, and this final piece of recruitment would certainly do that.
Kaminski has already proved an outstanding find as the club’s number one, keeping three clean sheets in four league games and earning a call-up to the Belgium squad for the most recent international break, while his back-ups wouldn’t be too bad either.
Pears enjoyed a promising start to life in the Championship with ‘Boro last season, while Stergiakis’ caps at international youth level, and Bulgarian Cup winners medal from his time in Sofia, highlight the potential that he too possesses.
As a result, if Rovers were to ever find themselves without Kaminski for some reason, Mowbray could be confident of turning to one of the other two – who would both likely be competing at the top of their game in a bid to get each other in the pecking order – to step in between the posts.
That is something that should allow Rovers to remain competitive in matches for some time to come, regardless of who is in their penalty area, allowing the club to continue to push towards Mowbray’s repeatedly stated aim of a return to the Premier League.
As a result, while a deal for Pears may not appear the most necessary signing, it could certainly be a worthwhile one.