COMMENT By Will Butcher
Middlesbrough’s Adam Clayton could provide the missing link in Leeds’ midfield if he was to return to Elland Road ahead of the 2017-18 campaign.
Clayton, 28, has proved just how valuable he is to Middlesbrough’s fight against relegation this season by missing just four of Boro’s 27 Premier League encounters.
Clayton left Leeds back in the summer of 2012 and here are three reasons why a return to Yorkshire could make him one of Garry Monk’s best signing yet.
Passion for Leeds
Passion is something that Clayton is renowned for. It was apparent during his time at Elland Road; known for his touch-tackling nature and celebrations, as well as his knee slide in front of then-Leeds boss Neil Warnock after the 68-year-old surprisingly sold him to rivals Huddersfield in 2012. His celebration after a last-minute goal back in 2011 in injury time during a 2-2 draw against West Ham showed just how much the midfielder wanted to be at Leeds, and that kind of passion to play for Monk’s side could still be alive in Clayton. Returning him to Elland Road could reignite a fire in Clayton, which may bring the best out of Boro’s number eight.
Monk’s midfield options
There is no doubt that Leeds have a strong midfield. A balance of experience, youth and international caps, Monk calls on the likes of captain Liam Bridcutt, Ireland international Eunan O’Kane, teenager Ronaldo Vieira and academy product Kalvin Phillips. However, all four have only shown in glimpses what they are capable of this season. Clayton, who can be used as a number 10, in front of the defence or as a box-to-box midfielder, would provide a consistent quality in the middle of the park and become one of the first names on Monk’s team sheet.
Boro’s relegation, Leeds’ promotion
Currently in the middle of a relegation dogfight, Leeds could be set to replace Middlesbrough in the Premier League next season. Boro sit in 19th and without a league win since December 17. Monk’s side sit in fourth, and that could tempt Clayton into a return to the Whites as he could look to remain in the Premier League, be that with Aitor Karanka’s side or another team. Boro may have to trim their wage bill next term if they do get relegated, and could allow Clayton to leave.
In other Leeds transfer news, here are three reasons why re-signing this playmaker would also boost Monk’s side.