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Smart and risk-free signing – Liverpool must continue their pursuit of this 21-year-old Middlesbrough powerhouse

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Why Liverpool should sign Middlesbrough defender Dael Fry

According to the Sunday Express, Jurgen Klopp’s side have been keeping tabs on Middlesbrough defender Dael Fry. Liverpool scouts are said to be preparing a report on the English centre-back after watching him play six times this season.

The England U21 international came through the ranks at Middlesbrough youth academy. The 21-year-old has been on Middlesbrough’s books throughout his entire professional club football career. However, the youngster did serve a loan spell at Rotherham, making 10 appearances.

Fry had been struggling to emerge from the shadow of another Middlesbrough academy graduate, Ben Gibson. However, since Gibson’s summer move to Premier League side Burnley, Fry has established himself as an important player in Tony Pulis’s team.

So far, Dael Fry featured in 11 Championship games for Middlesbrough this season registering over 950 minutes of football.  This is one game less than the 12 Championship appearances he managed for Middlesbrough during the 2017/18 campaign. This highlights the youngster’s rapid development which in part explains Liverpool’s interest.

Middlesbrough currently sits 2nd in the Championship table. The Riverside Stadium side is just two points off leaders Norwich City. Pulis’ side put 31 points on the board from 17 games. Boro have won eight, drawn seven and lost two.

Key to Middleborough’s promotion hopes this season has been their defensive solidity. Boro have the best defensive record in the division and have conceded just eight goals in 17 games. That is five goals less than second best Swansea City, who have let in 13 goals.

Dael Fry has featured in 11 of Boro’s league games this season, quickly establishing himself at the heart of the Teesside club’s defence. Fry is an excellent centre-back who has a bright future and a move to the Premier League could be on the cards. An astute defender, he is good on the ball and offers a threat in indirect set-piece situations.

Although it seems unlikely for him to receive a regular starting space in Liverpool’s current back four, Klopp’s player development history suggests otherwise. Both Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez have been in top form this season, patrolling the area in front of summer signing keeper Alisson Becker. Liverpool have the joint best defensive record in the division alongside defending champions Manchester City, conceding just five goals in 12 league games.

Interestingly, three members of Liverpool’s defensive unit are below 25. Andrew Robertson is 24, Trent Alexander-Arnold is 20 and Joe Gomez is 21. Fry is still developing and could benefit with a move to an established Premier League side.

Able to operate either as a centre-back and at right back, Fry may be drafted in as cover for Alexander-Arnold given Nathaniel Clyne’s offensive play frailties. At centre-back, the youngster would have to dislodge either Dejan Lovren or Joel Matip to provide cover for Van Dijk and Gomez.

With Liverpool challenging for the Champions League, Premier League and the FA Cup, Jurgen Klopp would need to rotate players to keep legs fresh, thus providing scope for the 21-year-old to get minutes and prove himself. The youngster would be a smart and relatively risk-free signing for the Reds in the long run.

With Middlesbrough challenging for promotion from the Championship, Pulis might not be happy to sanction a January transfer. The player has two years left on his current contract but a good offer might be tempting for the club.

Read More: Food for thought: Middlesbrough’s underrated midfield enforcer deserves a lot more praise this season

In recent seasons, Jurgen Klopp has been known to get his man; no matter how long it takes, no matter how much the player costs. Don’t rule this one out just yet.

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