Leeds United have been linked with a summer move for Middlesbrough centre-back Dael Fry, with numerous Premier League clubs interested in the 24-year-old as they look to tighten their defence.
According to Football League World, the defender is subject to interest from Leeds, as well as Premier League rivals Wolves, West Ham, Southampton, Burnley, Brighton and Brentford.
It has also been suggested that Boro are holding out for more than £20m for his services, but that would only be if the club are to miss out on promotion.
Chris Wilder has revitalised the Teesside club since his appointment in early November, with Middlesbrough currently sixth in the Championship with a game in hand on seventh-placed Nottingham Forest and two games on Huddersfield Town in fifth, with Fry making 21 league appearances so far this term.
It’s fair to say that Leeds are experiencing a case of ‘second season syndrome’ after their stellar reintroduction to the top flight last term, when they finished ninth in the Premier League.
Marcelo Bielsa’s side are currently 15th in the table and are still looking to distance themselves from the prospect of a nervy end to the season.
The Whites were notorious for shipping goals last term, conceding 54 times (1.42 per game), but their attack was frightening at times. The Yorkshire outfit scored 62 goals (1.63), which gave them a buffer for getting caught out at the back.
However, Leeds are yet to find that balance between attack and defence this season, conceding 46 goals (two per game) and scoring just 27 (1.17 per game), so investment in the defence is vital.
Moreover, the 24-year-old was instrumental in Middlesbrough’s triumph over Manchester United in the FA Cup recently, securing victory on penalties after a 1-1 draw as the defender played the whole 120 minutes of normal and extra time.
Wilder’s defence is also one of the best in the Championship, conceding just 29 goals in 30 games, with only Fulham, Bournemouth and West Brom having better records at the back.
The ex-Sheffield United boss is also a big fan of the defender, with the 54-year-old labelling Fry as “outstanding” after his return from injury in a 0-0 draw against Stoke earlier this season.
Leeds centre-back Robin Koch has been particularly underwhelming this term and, despite playing in the division below, Fry trumps the German in most aspects of his game.
According to SofaScore, the 24-year-old has kept seven clean sheets so far this term whilst also averaging 0.9 tackles, 0.6 interceptions and three clearances per game, being dribbled past just 0.3 times per match.
Contrastingly, Koch is yet to secure a clean sheet, has been dribbled past once per game and makes 0.7 tackles per match. However, the German boasts slightly better statistics in interceptions and clearances, with 1.1 and 3.3 per game respectively.
Although £20m is a steep fee for a defender valued at £5.4m by Transfermarkt and with no Premier League experience, at 24 there is still plenty of potential in Fry.
Furthermore, Leeds will have to make some sort of investment in their defence during the summer if they are to improve in that regard. They’ll just hope that it hasn’t cost them their top-flight status in the meantime, and Bielsa would surely love to bring in someone like Fry who would likely improve them in that regard, as evidenced above.