Column: Why Middlesbrough Would Be Complete Mugs To Keep Alvaro Negredo Next Season

Alvaro Negredo joined Middlesbrough in the summer of 2016 on a season-long loan from Spanish side Valencia. The striker signed for Boro with the option to buy for €10 million, or around £8.5 million. However the question remains, should Middlesbrough make Negredo’s signing permanent or opt to put the £8.5 million towards another player?

Several key areas must be addressed when assessing whether or not the Spaniard is worth his price tag. These include his age, wage, goal contributions and contributions in general to the team. We must also look at if Boro could sign anyone better than Negredo for said price.

Wage

When Negredo signed permanently for Valencia in 2015 his reported basic wage became around £100,000. After securing the Spaniard on loan, Middlesbrough have been paying all of this in full. Therefore if Boro were to secure the striker on a permanent deal, they will surely have to offer him a similar wage to this. Questions must be asked how this wage compares to the rest of the squad. Boro’s first team squad earns around £1,229,704 each year (according to Global Sports Salary Survey). This puts the average first team wage at Middlesbrough in the region of £23k a week.

Comparing this to Negredo’s current wage, if he were to sign a deal with a similar wage this would have him earning around £75k more than the average player. This would suggest that Negredo is nearly three times more valuable than the majority of the squad. Does this mean he should be contributing three times more than the average Boro player? In my opinion, he does not contribute three times more than say, Gibson or Ramirez. I think then if Negredo was to sign permanently he should take a wage cut. If he would actually do this remains up in the air.

Age

Negredo turned 31 on the 20th August and will be 32 by the time the next season is beginning. Surely then, going of other Premier League strikers in the previous year (Excluding Zlatan who just seems to get better with age), Negredo has maybe two, three years at a push where he will be at the top of his game and able to compete in the Premiership. Therefore would it be wise for Middlesbrough to invest £8.5 million plus around £520,000 in wages in a striker who many only have two years left at the top of his game? Arguably not and Boro may be better served to look for a slightly younger striker to take his place.

Goal Contributions

Negredo has made 26 appearances for Middlesbrough in which Boro have won 4 and lost 12. Negredo is currently Boro’s top scorer. However, he has only scored 6 goals for the Teessider’s in the league. 6 goals in 26 games for a lone striker is somewhat poor. It may also be a reason why Middlesbrough are the league’s lowest scorers. Furthermore, according to PremierLeague.com, Negredo has missed five big chances for Middlesbrough. If he had converted these chances he could be on 11 for the season. Also because Boro rarely lose by more than one goal and often draw games, these missed chances could have seen Boro secure another five wins or even five draws. Either of these would have been better and just five points would help the reds in their fight for survival.

Crystal Palace v Middlesbrough - Premier League

In comparison with the only other ‘striker’ who has played consistently for Boro this season, Cristhian Stuani, Negredo does not fair much better. In 19 appearances Stuani has scored four goals and missed just two big chances. Also, Stuani has spent much of his playing time this season as a right midfielder. Therefore if a much cheaper player who isn’t even playing up front is doing basically as well as Negredo, do Middlesbrough really want to spend that much money on him? In my opinion, while he is not helped by how defensive Middlesbrough play 6 goals in 26 is simply not good enough and not worth the price tag and wage.

Overall contribution to the team

Negredo as well as being the top goal scorer also has the most assists of any Boro player this season. The Spaniard currently has four assists, followed by Ramirez who has three. This shows Negredo is a team player and does contribute in other ways than his goals. Alvaro Negredo is also a strong presence in the air which is good for a team such as Boro who play a lot of long balls.  However, in my opinion, Middlesbrough may still be better off looking for another striker who is younger and also has a physical presence in the air and who will score more goals in a season.

Anyone better?

In today’s ridiculously priced football transfer market, £8.5 million is not that much. Despite this, I believe Boro would be better served saving the money and putting it towards somebody else. Largely because Negredo is already 31, he is on Boro’s highest wage by far, and he has only scored 6 goals all season.

If Middlesbrough where to look abroad to leagues such as the Serie A or perhaps Ligue 1 then they could find themselves a player like Southampton’s  Gabbiadini. Despite being around £5 million more than what Negredo would cost, he is six years younger and has already scored four goals in four Premier League games for the Saints, plus a brace in the cup final. Meaning in five games for Southampton he has already met Negredo’s goal tally from 26 games. This is why I think Middlesbrough should not sign Negredo and should look elsewhere for a younger forward. We would be total mugs if we do keep on Negredo at the end of this season.

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