Why losing Darren Randolph to West Ham may not be such a bad thing for Middlesbrough
At the start of the season, the prospect of Middlesbrough losing first-choice goalkeeper Darren Randolph was a worrying thought.
The Republic of Ireland international was named the club’s player of the year last term and also earned a place in the PFA Championship team of the season.
Yet Randolph’s proposed return to former club West Ham appears to be edging ever closer, with some reports suggesting a deal could be completed in the next 48 hours.
Boro boss Jonathan Woodgate has remained coy on the situation in recent weeks, with constant speculation suggesting that something has been bubbling under the surface.
Yet Randolph has been sidelined since the end of November with a thigh injury and has kept just two of Boro’s nine clean sheets this campaign.
In his absence, academy graduate Aynsley Pears, 21, has stepped up to the plate, while Spanish stopper Tomas Mejias also showed what he’s capable of in Sunday’s FA Cup draw with Tottenham.
Of course Randolph will be a loss for the Teessiders, and what shouldn’t be underestimated is his influence behind the scenes.
Both Pears and Woodgate have been full of praise for the Irishman, commenting on what a great influence he’s been for Boro’s young keepers.
Losing a mentor with international pedigree obviously wouldn’t be ideal for the inexperienced Pears, yet the young shot-stopper has shown vast potential in recent weeks.
The other big talking point is the fee West Ham are willing to pay.
In the summer of 2017, Boro signed Randolph for £5million on a four-year contract following the club’s relegation from the Premier League.
That means the keeper will be out of contract in less than 18 months time and will also be one of the higher earners at the club.
So while a reported £4million fee to bring Randolph back to the London Stadium may look like a bargain for West Ham, it may make sense for Boro to cash in – especially with seven players, including Daniel Ayala and Jonny Howson, out of contract this summer.
Tying those two players down to new deals is surely a priority, and while Randolph will be missed, Boro have shown they can cope without him.