Championship side Middlesbrough are yet to launch a bid for Rangers centre-back Jack Simpson despite their reported interest, as per a report from Teesside Live.
Chris Wilder’s men did play a back three system under the 54-year-old’s predecessor Neil Warnock earlier in the season, but the current manager’s 3-5-2 formation seems to be the system Boro will use consistently going forward and this has seemingly shifted their attention to a centre-back with Folarin Balogun’s loan move from Arsenal all but confirmed.
With this, The Sun reported on Sunday that Boro were weighing up a loan move for the 25-year-old, with current side Rangers prepared to let him go after only seeing him make three appearances in the Scottish Premiership this term.
Quiz: Can you name which club Middlesbrough signed these 28 midfielders from?
This lack of game time must be a real disappointment for the central defender who only arrived at Ibrox less than 12 months ago, joining the club in February last year, but could be given a fresh start at a side that are currently chasing promotion to the Premier League along with former club AFC Bournemouth.
The promotion chasers will already have five loanees on their books if the arrival of Arsenal’s Balogun is pushed through, but James Lea Siliki’s involvement for Cameroon at the African Cup of Nations would allow the Englishman to cement his place in the second-tier side’s squad.
However, Teesside Live’s Craig Johns reported yesterday evening that an offer is yet to be submitted to Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s side regarding the centre-back’s services, leaving Simpson in limbo as he looks to secure regular first-team football.
It remains unclear as to whether he’s being lined up as a potential replacement for Dael Fry, who is currently being linked with Newcastle United but doesn’t seem to be close to the exit door at this stage.
When operating with a back three, it could be argued that you can never have enough centre-backs, especially if an injury crisis does occur at the back.
However, it would be interesting to see whether Simpson fits in if he does join the club, with Fry, Anfernee Dijksteel, Grant Hall, Lee Peltier, Paddy McNair and Sol Bamba all able to operate in central defence.
In fairness, Dijksteel would probably come in for Isaiah Jones if the latter was to pick up an injury with Djed Spence remaining at Nottingham Forest for the remainder of the campaign and McNair would drop into the midfielder if the likes of Matt Crooks or Jonny Howson become unavailable.
Despite this, it may be difficult for the 25-year-old to force his way into the first team if he was to arrive at the Riverside, so it might be worth the reigning Scottish Premiership champions including punishment clauses in any potential loan agreement to try to make sure he receives as much game time as possible.
It’s good from Boro’s point of view that this deal is only a loan though – because Bamba potentially has the ability to play at this level beyond the end of the campaign in his current vein of form – shining multiple times this term.
The last thing Wilder will want is unhappy players, so having Simpson on a temporary deal would be far less problematic for him.