As they prepare to return to the Premier League, a busy summer looms for Middlesbrough, and boss Aitor Karanka has reportedly ear-marked one man he hopes will ensure the Teessiders make a successful comeback.
Boro’ have been linked with Sporting Gijon’s centre-half Bernardo Espinosa, with reports in Spain claiming the 26-year-old is mulling over his options.
Bournemouth, Everton and Watford have also been mooted as potential destinations, but Middlesbrough are very much in pole position for Espinsosa, who becomes a free agent next month.
At a shade over 6ft 3in, the Colombian certainly has the physical capabilities to mix it in the Premier League, and had been one of the first names in the Gijon squad before a knee injury curtailed his season in November.
He is expected to return from that cruciate ligament injury in the early autumn, and some could see his potential arriving as a satefy-net should the highly-rated Daniel Ayala depart the Riverside.
The Spaniard has been courted by numerous clubs, and with one year left on his deal at Middlesbrough, the club could find themselves losing Ayala for nothing next year.
This summer, Boro are making their preparations for a Premier League comeback, after finishing second in last season’s Championship, but odds of 5/4 suggest they could be going straight back down without some improvements.
If Karanka can keep hold of Ayala, and bring in Espinosa too, to form a talented defensive combination, the Teessiders could be well-placed to dispel any relegation fears.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.