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According to reports from The Sun, Newcastle United are set to battle it out with Middlesbrough for the loan signing of Liverpool winger Sheyi Ojo.
The 20-year old could not make much of an impact in the senior team last season as injuries seem to have curtailed his progress. But he still remains very highly rated by Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp. The Times claimed that the German tactician is willing to let the youngster go away on a temporary spell for the next season, in order to help him continue his development with some regular first-team football.
Ojo was first given a chance to make an impression in the first team by Klopp in the second half of the 2015-16 campaign, after the manager recalled him from a loan spell at Wolverhampton Wanderers midway through the season, having been impressed by the youngster. The academy man did catch some eyes with a handful of first-team appearances that season and as a result, he was kept around with the first team for the 2016/17 campaign.
However, a recurring back problem prohibited him from staking a claim for a regular spot in Klopp’s plans. As a result, Ojo just made two FA Cup appearances last season.
Someone who can play on either flank, the 20-year old does have loads of potential and this hasn’t gone unnoticed by the current Newcastle manager and former Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez, while Middlesbrough’s new manager Garry Monk too has cast his eyes on Ojo, who was part of the England U-20 side that won the FIFA U-20 World Cup 2017 in South Korea earlier this year
So, which club will be the ideal destination for Ojo to continue his development? Let’s analyse.
The Magpies earned promotion on the back of a strong season in the second division, where they finished as the EFL Championship title winners. But manager Benitez is keen on strengthening his ranks ahead of their much-awaited return to the Premier League.
Having signed Christian Atsu and Florian Lejeune, the Spaniard knows there is still a lot of business to be done and considers bringing in Ojo, who would add more depth to the wide areas.
However, from Ojo’s perspective, he should realise that he will be behind the likes of Matt Ritchie and Atsu in the pecking order. With Newcastle interested in the signature of Adama Traore from Boro, there are slim chances of Ojo being able to carve out a regular starting spot in the starting XI at the St. James’ Park.
The freshly relegated Boro, under the new reign of former Swansea and Leeds United manager Garry Monk, will be looking to mount an immediate return to the Premier League. Monk too, is intent on adding fresh blood to his ranks in order infuse some confidence into the side.
Wide areas are something that will definitely need to be reinforced for the Teessiders. Apart from Stewart Downing and Adama Traore, there are no real natural wingers in the Boro squad. With Traore heavily linked with an exit, it just adds to the urgent need for a new wide man to arrive at the Riverside in the summer.
This could turn out to be an ideal situation for Ojo, considering that he will have much lesser competition for a place in the playing XI than at Newcastle. Monk has shown that he doesn’t hesitate to back youth talent, having relied on the likes of young Hadi Sacko, Ronaldo Vieira and Alfonso Pedraza Sag last season with Leeds, gives Ojo the safe spot of developing himself at Boro under Monk.
Sheyi Ojo should rather choose Middlesbrough instead of Newcastle.
Taking all factors into consideration, a move to Middlesbrough would bode much well for Ojo, mainly because the chances of him playing regularly are much higher at the Riverside than it would be at Newcastle, despite the attraction of a stay in the Premier League and working with someone like Benitez.