Middlesbrough's summer transfer strategy laid out by Kieran Scott with emphasis on one thing

Middlesbrough head of football Kieran Scott
-Credit: (Image: Middlesbrough FC)

Middlesbrough head of football Kieran Scott says this summer's transfer window will be about adding quality over quantity this time around - and he says the club are making good progress on their targets already.

Last summer Boro added 12 new players to their squad, only two of which were loans. They added three more in January and although two of them were loan deals, one - Luke Ayling - has now made the move to the Riverside a permanent one after a successful five months at the club.

With so much work done in the last 12 months to improve squad depth after it was decimated last summer with the loss of key loan players and star striker Chuba Akpom, the focus is now to build on the foundations laid. With an emphasis on first-team-ready quality, Scott says Boro won't be as busy as last summer.

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"It feels different this summer," Scott told Teesside Live and other regional outlets. "Last summer felt like big changes, a lot of changes. Not only were we trying to strengthen the first-team starters, we were trying to strengthen the squad around it. It's no secret the loans left a big hole that needed to be filled.

"But going into this season, I feel like we need to find four or five players who add real quality. Then from that that makes the squad better, your bench better. That's our focus into the summer.

"We're pushing hard to try to do that as quickly as we can, but obviously I'm not the only one in control of that. There's a lot of moving parts. We have a long list of players and are advancing with a few really early on. We know who we want to sign already and are actively trying to do that."

He continued: "It was tough last year. We had to do so many. This year there's a different focus. The way the season ended it gave us a bit of a head start. There was an outside sniff but we knew really our work could start a bit earlier.

"Last year, we were governed by the play-offs. We were splitting two lists, we were trying to work out all sorts of different variations. This time, we pretty much knew what we were doing so we've been working for months to get ourselves ahead of the game, so hopefully that's what we'll be in the next month or two."

Boro are believed to want to sign a midfielder, attacking midfielder and striker this summer, with midfield the current priority and one they're understood to be progressing well with. One striker recently linked who isn't a target, however, is St Johnstone's Adama Sidibe.

Once the priority boxes are ticked, the club will then continue to be flexible and react to the market, based on the resources they have available. They remain adamant they don't want to lose key players, but will have to be ready in the eventuality someone does table a ridiculous offer.

One box they have already ticked is that of Ayling, who has signed a permanent deal at the club following his successful loan spell. With his Leeds United contract expiring this summer, it's a deal Boro were happy to conclude early, as other clubs including Sheffield United were trying to hijack the deal.

Scott said: "We have to balance the squad. We'd struggle to be competitive in the division with a bunch of 21-year-olds, as much as it would be great for assets. Luke came in, he looked like he needed a bit of football and as soon as he got settled in he did brilliant.

"He's a really good guy off the pitch, he's someone we need and want in the dressing room. He brings a lot to the table. We're delighted and hopefully he can be a main player for us next season.

"It wasn't an easy done deal. Luke is 32, this is probably one of the last contracts he's going to get. It had to be right for him and everybody. There was naturally going to be a lot of interest.

"He clocked up eight assists for us in half a season. There are not many right-backs doing that. We felt he really wanted to come back, you could feel he enjoyed it here and felt at home. I wasn't surprised he stayed, but I was happy he did."