Southampton reviving interest in their £20m-rated summer target would be a good defensive boost


Why Southampton should reignite their interest in Dael Fry

Back in June, a report from football website 90min (h/t Teesside Live) had claimed that Southampton were among the Premier League clubs chasing highly-rated Middlesbrough centre-back Dael Fry. The 23-year-old, who was then valued at £20m, had also been linked with a move to Everton.

However, rumours linking Fry with a switch to the Premier League never quite materialised in the summer and the defender has continued to impress in the Championship.


A youth exponent of Middlesbrough, Dael Fry has been with the club since 2006. He made his first-team breakthrough during the 2015-16 season on the back of some splendid displays for Boro’s U-19 and U-23 sides. Fry was then sent out on loan to Rotherham United for the second half of the 2016-17 campaign before being gradually integrated into the first-team set-up at the Riverside Stadium.

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Dael Fry had been linked with Southampton in the summer (Getty Images)

Having been restricted to a bit-part role in 2017-18, Fry established himself as one of the mainstays of Middlesbrough’s defence in the following campaign. He has since carved out a reputation for himself as one of the best young centre-backs in the Championship. 

The towering homegrown starlet has racked up 110 appearances for the Teessiders across all competitions, claiming 5 assists in the process. Fry has also represented England across youth levels, accumulating 44 caps.

Southampton need more stability at the back

Southampton roped in promising young Ghanaian centre-back Mohammed Salisu in the summer but they could very well need to dive into the winter window for further reinforcements in that department.

Salisu will surely be integrated into the first-team mix at St. Mary’s after he recovers from his injury but regardless of that, the Saints are still somewhat light in their options at the heart of the defence.

Long-serving defender Maya Yoshida departed to join Sampdoria on a permanent basis in the summer while Wesley Hoedt was also loaned out to Lazio. Kevin Danso, who spent the previous campaign on loan at Southampton, returned to his parent club Augsburg before sealing another loan move to Fortuna Dusseldorf. 

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Fry has made 110 appearances for Middlesbrough in all competitions (Getty Images)

To sum it up, Southampton lost a lot of depth and quality in the centre-back department during the summer window. They conceded as many as 60 goals in the Premier League last term and have already shipped in 9 goals in 5 league games so far this season, which clearly epitomises the club’s woes at the back.

Jan Bednarek, Jannik Vestergaard, and Jack Stephens are all accomplished defenders at this level but all of them have struggled for consistency over the past 12 months. Hence, Southampton can certainly do with another quality centre-back to increase competition for places at the heart of the defence.

To put things into context, Southampton reigniting interest in Dael Fry would be a really smart move. The Saints have largely focussed on recruiting young and talented players in the market since the appointment of Ralph Hasenhuttl and the 23-year-old certainly ticks the box in that regard.

Fry has been one of the best young centre-backs in the Championship over the past two seasons and while he isn’t the finished article just yet, the Middlesbrough graduate seems to have the potential to make the step up to the Premier League moving forward. Add to that his gigantic 6ft. 4-inch frame and he could well be a handful for the opposition in the top-flight.

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Source: Getty Images

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It’s hard to say whether Dael Fry would be an outright upgrade on Southampton’s existing centre-back options, but he definitely looks good enough to keep the likes of Stephens and Bednarek on their toes. With more than 100 appearances in the Championship under his belt, the 23-year-old has done enough to warrant a shot at proving his credentials in the Premier League. 

Fry still has his best years ahead of him and given Hasenhuttl’s glowing track record of maximising the potential of young players, one would expect the Saints to transform the centre-back into a top-quality asset.