• Ben Strickland

22 Players that Middlesbrough should cast an eye over this summer

The 21/22 season is over, and it fizzled out in typical Boro fashion. Was it the intensity of our game paired with the championship run-in? Do we not have enough leaders? Do we not have enough young legs? Do we not have enough strength in depth?

One thing already cited by Wilder is the running stats and intensity within the leagues himself and Kieran Scott have already been scouting in preparation for the most significant summer transfer rebuild since... Last summer.


Goalkeepers


Boro have not had the number 1 position cemented down since Darren Randolph departed for West Ham. Lumley and Daniels came in last summer and both have been criticised. Lumley became prone to the odd mistake leading to goal and the latter’s ability to play out of the back has been sub-par. Lumley will likely move on as Wilder will be looking for a keeper better suited to his system.


The following keepers below should possess the qualities of commanding their area and be able to kick start an attacking move with quick and accurate distribution.


Michael Cooper

Age - 22 Club - Plymouth Arygle Shots Faced - 182 Saves - 136 Save% - 74.7% Already nearing 100 league appearances having played every league game for Argyle the past two seasons. The Plymouth manager has stated that Cooper may be sold ‘for the right price’ and if the move is in the best interests of the player.


At Boro, he should be guaranteed a starting place as we change tact to a smarter recruitment model in signing players we could possibly sell for a profit.


Arijanet Muric


Age - 23 Club - Manchester City Shots Faced - 138 Saves - 110 Save% - 79.7%


The Kosovan international has been playing in Turkey alongside former Boro player Britt Assombalonga. Likes to come off his line and at near 6ft 6, he can relieve some pressure on our backline when defending set-pieces. Unlikely to get a game at Man City being behind Ederson and Steffen, and at 23, he may become available for a permanent exit from the Etihad.



Nathan Baxter


Age – 22

Club – Chelsea

Shots on target against – 76

Saves – 62

Save% - 81.6%


A Boro Breakdown favourite, probably unfortunate that Hull had Matt Ingram as well otherwise he’d have played much more than he has. Another player who is unlikely to play for his parent club so may be available this summer for a reasonable price.


Right Wing Back


Isaiah Jones has not had any competition this season and we have seen him seemingly burn out having not replicated the performances he was churning out before the turn of the year. We’ve seen how Wilder utilises the wing backs as a primary outlet in attack and must be able to progress the ball effectively as well as deliver accurate crosses into the box from the byline.


Brooke Norton-Cuffy


Age – 18

Club – Arsenal

Assists – 1


He seems ready-made to compete with Isaiah Jones for the starting spot, a player to get fans off their seats but needs to add more goal involvements to his game, in Wilder’s system, with the low cut-back crosses, assists will come. If you aren’t convinced type his name into youtube and take what you see with a pinch of salt as he looks incredible.



Kane Wilson

Age – 22

Club – Forest Green Rovers

Assists – 14

219 crosses attempted this season for Wilson, he is out of contract now and could be a cheaper option who is a proven creator. Could come in and hit the ground running due to the similarities in formation between Boro and Forest Green.



Centre Back


Upon hearing of Wilder’s arrival, it seemed like our backline was tailor-made for this overlapping wingback system. We haven’t had strength in depth, however, nor have we got the right balance on the left of the three; with it becoming prominent that we need a left-footed centreback in this team. We also lacked the aerial threat when attacking and defending set-pieces. The following players have the qualities to progress the ball as well as having the aerial capabilities that our previous top 6 rivals have possessed.


Harry Darling

Age – 22

Club – Milton Keynes

Goals – 10

Preferred foot - Right


Every top half second-tier side will be casting an eye at Harry Darling, he has scored an impressive 10 goals last term. Linked to join up with his former manager Russell Martin in January, would have to be a good deal to tempt him to Boro.


Luke McNally

Age – 22

Club – Oxford City

Goals – 4

Preferred foot – Right

Strong in the tackle and in the air, as well as being able to dribble comfortably, McNally has the potential to be a premier league player in the future. Would fill a Bamba shaped gap and improve on it should Sol leave.



Ross Graham

Age – 21

Club – Dundee United

Goals – 2

Preferred Foot – Left


As Micah Richards would say, he has burst onto the scene this season. Solidifying himself as an important player in Dundee United’s backline. Will be one to support a starting left-sided centre back in the short term but if he keeps developing at the rate he has been, he could force his way into our team fairly quickly.


Kelland Watts

Age – 22

Club – Newcastle

Goals – 0

Preferred Foot – Left


Another for squad depth, although he has helped Wigan to promotion. Highly rated at Newcastle having been described as “quick, focused and strong in the air”. Although yet to get on the score sheet for Wigan, he is still young and his best football is ahead of him.

Matt Clarke

Age – 25

Club – Brighton

Goals – 1

Preferred foot – Left


Steve Bruce has already expressed interest in wanting to secure Clarke for WBA again next term. However, after a torrid start to Bruce’s tenure; the prospect of a genuine promotion push may be enough for Boro to secure his services.


Left Wing Back


The left-wing back was one of the most cemented down positions this season, but Marc Bola has fallen out of favour; with Marcus Tavernier filling the role for the last few games of the season. Wilder will want the left side of the pitch to be just as much of a threat as the right side. Enabling us to stretch teams and open gaps in the opposition defence.

Harrison Burrows


Age – 20

Club – Peterborough

Goals – 3

Assists – 7


Another versatile left sided player who can play at wingback or as an 8 or a 10. Following their relegation, they may be persuaded to sell their player who amassed 10 goal involvements in the championship. At 20 years old, there is plenty of time to develop him into a very good player.


Ryan Giles

Age – 22

Club – Wolves

Goals – 0

Assists – 10

Probably not getting in the Wolves team next season, another loan move is likely or a permanent move if the right deal can be made. Very few of Boro’s attacking moves came from the left side, a signing like Giles will balance the team out.


Holding Midfielder


With it looking likely that Howson is being offered a new contract (or he’ll have already signed one by the time this comes out), it is interesting to see if he will continue as the main holding midfielder or if we recruit someone to take the starting birth. It's hard to pin down what Howson does, he drops in and covers for an advancing wingback, he will be the first to press high up the pitch and spearhead a counter, he also sits in front of our backline offering an outlet to recycle possession. Regardless, a new holding midfielder will need to do all that.


Dani De Wit

Club – AZ Alkmaar

Goals – 7

Assists – 4


Grant Leadbitter, Adam Clayton, Jacob Butterfield, Nicky Bailey, Jonny Howson.

All goalscoring advanced midfielders turned holding midfielders, what's one more? Dani De Wit can do it all, came through the academy at Ajax and was given his debut by future Man Utd manager Ten Hag before moving on to AZ. Wilder sounded out the Eredivisie as a league both himself and Kieran Scott are looking at, so this deal is not beyond the realms.


Adem Zorgane

Age – 22

Club – RSC Charleroi

Goals – 2

Assists – 8


Not typically a holding midfielder but Boro don’t play with a typical holding midfield player, good technical player who is just as skilled in the defensive side of the game. A bit left field but Boro are open in exploring foreign markets, if Boro don’t get him, I can see him going to a Fulham or Watford and be in the premier league before long.


Ronaldo Vieira

Age – 23

Club – Sampdoria

The leeds academy graduate has only played 11 times this season for Sampdoria, 10 of those appearances have been off the bench. He is a very good holding midfielder, ruthless and aggressive in a tackle; was linked with both Leeds and Sheff Utd in January but the moves didn’t materialise. Been a fan of his for a while.


Central Midfield


If Tavernier is still here, he has nailed down that position on the left side of a midfield three; we missed him in midfield when he played at wingback in our last game. Is Crooks the type of player that Wilder wants on the opposite side? ' Seems daft to suggest considering he is our top scorer. An equally daft suggestion is ‘Does Payero have a future at the club?’ Wilder may not have wanted to risk the playoff run in by throwing Martin into the fold, but he’s also barely featured off the bench. Wilder earmarked running stats so the following players must have good fitness levels as one theory for Boro’s dip in form had been a potential burnout.


David Kasumu

Age – 22

Club – Milton Keynes

Assists – 2


Not the first MK player on this list, won’t be the last. Was unfortunate to start this season with an injury. He is a good number 8 and is ready for the step up to the championship. His contract runs out after the league 1 playoffs, though he is under the age of 23, but a cheap deal could be struck.


Lewis Fiorini

Age – 19

Club – Man City

Goals – 6

Assists – 4

Played well in a struggling Lincoln side and is reportedly attracting Championship interest. A loan move could suit us in providing cover in depth as well as trying him before we potentially buy him. Wilder has a good relationship with Pep so we may be trusted with some of City’s emerging talents.


Elliot Anderson

Age – 19

Club – Newcastle

Goals – 8

Assists – 5


Already linked with Boro in this summer window, and you can see why, 12 goal involvements in just 21 games for Bristol Rovers, helping them to promotion to League 1. Likely to be a loan but would be an incredible bit of business if we got a permanent deal.


Forwards


It’s been a problem position at Boro for years, we’ve not had a striker that looked like scoring 20 goals a season since we had Assombalonga under Gary Monk...and we know how that turned out. You look at Billy Sharp and David McGoldrick for reference as to what Wilder wants his forwards to look like. Which makes it all the more confusing how we ended up with Connolly and Balogun last January. Maybe they were the best available to him?


Nevertheless, we need our strikers to initiate the press and most importantly, score goals.


Omar Marmoush

Age – 23

Club – Wolfsburg

Goals – 3

Assists – 4


He’s not had the most fruitful spells in front of goal, but he is a quality player, Wilder talked about running and this man is very good on the ball.


One of those who can make something out of nothing. I’ve followed him since seeing him play for St Pauli and he is some player.


Scott Twine

Age – 22

Club – Milton Keynes

Goals – 20

Assists – 13


33 (THIRTY THREE) goal involvements this season, can play anywhere from central midfield to either wing as well as up front. He struck a partnership with Troy Parrott (who would’ve featured on this list but for the sheer amount of MK players in this article) towards the end of the season. Arguably the second best freekick taker in England, behind James Ward-Prowse. A Mason Mount/James Maddison type player. Whoever lands this player in the summer will be a very lucky team.


Marcus Forss


Age – 22

Club – Brentford

Goals – 7

Assists – 3


Only scored one goal since joining Hull in January but had been clinical in the Carabao Cup for Brentford. Not likely to get in ahead of Toney, Mbuemo and Wissa for regular game time. Boro could benefit from getting a player with his potential in.


Adam Armstrong


Age – 25

Club – Southampton

Goals – 2

Assists – 3


A frustrated figure at Southampton, the move hasn’t gone as well as he’d hoped, but a very good striker at Championship level. Would suit all parties for a season long loan.

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