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Middlesbrough have splashed out another £6.5million this summer to bring in West Ham United striker Ashley Fletcher.
The 21-year-old former Man United starlet follows Britt Assombalonga, Martin Braithwaite, Jonny Howson, Darren Randolph and Cyrus Christie to the club as high profile arrivals and is helping to form a very good looking squad for a tilt at the Championship title.
Leeds United were also interested in bringing Fletcher in and they are seen as promotion contenders too, but have they missed a trick in not signing him?
Both sides already had a ‘main man’ before any deal for Fletcher was done, Boro having of course signed Assombalonga while 30-goal Chris Wood is still on the books at Elland Road. The striking thing to me though is the two different ways the respective managers like to line their team up.
Garry Monk tends to favour a 4-2-3-1 and as such it would seem that Fletcher, for now, will have to make do either with a wide berth or even a place on bench. Assombalonga, given his recent record in the Championship and the money he has cost, will surely start the season in Fletcher’s favoured no.9 position.
Had Leeds gone for him and had he accepted their terms, they would have had a regular quality partner for Wood in Christiansen’s preferred 4-4-2 formation. Not only does the new boss often favour this position but he also plays the ‘double-6’, employing two defensive midfield players and allowing the wingers to express themselves out wide and feed the two main strikers.
With this in mind, a move to Leeds could certainly have benefitted both Fletcher and the Yorkshire club. However, is the lack of movement on this deal synonymous with Monk’s move in the first place?
Remember, Garry Monk was offered another contract to stay at Leeds long-term at the end of last season but chose not to stick around because of concerns over budget and other behind the scenes issues. With that in mind, and thinking simplistically, why would an agent advise a player to go to the club a manager decided to leave rather than the one he chose to go to?
Football has a funny way of kicking you in the backside though and it would not be beyond the realms of possibility for Leeds to finish above Middlesbrough next season and gain promotion, though this move further highlights the suspected gap between the clubs.