David McGoldrick’s free transfer has plenty of merit for Middlesbrough and Chris Wilder – Craig Johns

It’s a transfer story that you could have predicted would finally happen this summer. David McGoldrick has been linked with a move to Middlesbrough after leaving Sheffield United on a free this summer.

The Sun reports that Chris Wilder would like to reunite with the former Republic of Ireland international at Boro, with the striker available on a free transfer this summer. From the moment McGoldrick’s name was included on Sheffield United’s list of released players, you could see a move to Boro coming. Why was it so predictable? Because it’s a move that holds so much merit for Boro as Wilder looks to rebuild his squad this summer.

Friday night’s report claimed Boro was close to signing the 34-year-old, and while that hasn’t been confirmed yet, it’s a move that makes so much sense for the club, even despite his age. Boro saw last year with Sol Bamba and Lee Peltier that age is just a number if mentality and character are there to prolong a career.

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McGoldrick will not arrive at Teesside this summer as the sole striker and certainly not the marquee signing. He will understand that as well as anyone. But, after losing three forwards on loan this summer all of whom failed to find goals for Boro last season, reinforcements are needed for a position that is rarely easy or cheap to recruit for.

Wilder noted this week how Boro was quoted £20m for a Championship striker. With the exception of Aleksandar Mitrovic, who the Anonymous Player certainly wasn’t, it would be hard to name another striker who is truly worth so much at the second tier last season, but such is the inflated value goalscorers get, that makes their recruitment so difficult.

Wilder also spoke this week about the different types of signings Boro will make this summer. He is targeting what he describes as ‘big name, marquee’ signings who will be brought in with the aim of immediately improving the first team. But Boro also needs depth, particularly up front, and McGoldrick on a free transfer has plenty of credit for providing that.

Of course, he has to offer more than just being a number, and with the history between Wilder and McGoldrick, the Boro boss will know exactly what he’s getting with his former Blades leader. In fact, the Boro boss once described McGoldrick as one of the best he’s ever worked with.

After scoring a Premier League brace against Chelsea to break his Premier League duck, Wilder said of the striker: “He’s such a good lad. He peddles a story about being judged, he didn’t come to trial We asked him to tick a box We knew Didzy, we knew from Mick McCarthy who had him that he was a talented footballer and sometimes opportunities open up.

“He came on and got everyone excited from day one. He scored goals in our promotion year, and he has a great attitude and work ethic. He didn’t score a goal (in the Premier League). League) but he’s a betting favorite and a player favorite and one of the best players I’ve ever worked with You want him to score and he wants to score too so scoring his goals was a brilliant success.



David McGoldrick of Sheffield United celebrates after scoring

McGoldrick is unlikely to be a name that will really excite fans. It’s understandable. He was never really a prolific goalscorer. But he was such a valuable and important player for Wilder’s Blades; its impact was far greater than mere goals. Nonetheless, when he moved to Bramall Lane in 2018, it had been four years since he last scored double figures in a season. He scored 15 goals for Wilder as Sheffield United won promotion to the Premier League, and went on to score ten top-flight goals over the next two seasons. Although he was not prolific, his importance to the team was evident to all at Sheffield United and he remained a favorite on the terraces until his departure in the summer.

McGoldrick makes sense for more than he can do in terms of getting the ball into the back of the net. In signing Darragh Lenihan this week, the Boro boss noted he needs players who can handle pressure and cope when the going gets tough – the characteristics needed when expectations rise and games start to get tough. importance as you reach the final third of the season. McGoldrick is absolutely that kind of character.

On top of that, he knows Wilder, he knows his style and he knows his requirements. With such an overhaul coming to this department this summer, getting its message across will be absolutely vital. Having a player like McGoldrick in the dressing room who he can trust and who can help get his message across will be important. And think how young Josh Coburn could also benefit from training with him. Wilder noted the value in him being surrounded by role model pros like Jonny Howson, Bamba and Peltier last season, but McGoldrick is a striker like him. Even better.

We have all seen how Wilder works with his forwards as well. Rotation is key given the intensity he expects them to play. This is why options and depth are so important. And when Wilder needs something from a game, he quite often throws extra forwards into the field and overloads the final third. McGoldrick would be particularly effective in such a scenario, although the hope is that it won’t be one they face as often next time around. Not only will he know what he needs to do, but he will have that understanding, that experience and that leadership to pass it on to his teammates as well.

Of course, McGoldrick is not a marquee signing. His name might not be the most exciting. But it’s a deal that has a lot of merit for Boro and for Wilder as he hopes to build a side this summer that will be able to challenge for promotion to the Premier League next season. If he ends up becoming a Boro player, it’s unlikely the fans will take too long to learn and appreciate exactly what he brings to a team.

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