Daniel Ayala has been quoted by the Hartlepool Mail as saying that he is keen to remain at Middlesbrough until the end of the season “unless something really big happens” – amid reported interest from Leeds United, Fulham and Stoke City.
Ayala, 29, has entered the final few months of his contract and will be allowed to talk to non-English sides from January 1 under the Bosman ruling. English clubs can sign him too, but as a normal transfer next month.
But with his contract ending in June, Boro may look to cash in and request a cut-price offer for the Spaniard – who has captained Boro in 20 of his 24 Championship appearances this season. George Friend is the Teesside club’s skipper.
According to TEAMtalk, Leeds, Fulham and Stoke are keeping tabs on the former Liverpool defender given his current contract situation. Ayala, though, stated he is keen to remain at Boro unless something big happens.
“Of course I see all the speculation, my friends send me all the stories and that is normal,” Ayala said. “But really I have to tell you that I only concentrate on Middlesbrough and I’m not thinking about leaving in January or anything like that.
“Unless something really big happens – and I don’t think it will – I will definitely be at Middlesbrough until the end of the season. I have been here seven years and I’ve said before, I love this club. I don’t really think about going elsewhere.
“I just want to stay here and let’s see what happens.”
TBR’s view – Ayala would be a top signing for Leeds ahead of run-in
Since Marcelo Bielsa arrived at the helm, Leeds United have been light at centre-back. Even now, 18 months after the Argentine was drafted in by owner Andrea Radrizzani, the Whites only boast two recognised first-team centre-backs.
One of those, in Ben White, is only on loan. Captain Liam Cooper is one of the first names on the team sheet, while Gaetano Berardi, Luke Ayling and Kalvin Phillips have had to fill in despite being preferred elsewhere.
Pascal Struijk and Olly Casey have made their debuts this season, but Leeds need an experienced head to help them in the promotion run-in. Why not a player such as Ayala, who has experience of promotion form the Championship with Boro?