Every Middlesbrough fan has expereinced some form of surprise during their time supporting the club.
Be that in a sad way, with the club nearly being wound up in 1986, or in an exciting way with the European nights under the Riverside lights against Basel and Steaua Bucharest in 2006.
One thing that came as a shock to no-one on Teesside was the fact Darren Randolph was awarded the club’s player of the year award at the yearly awards ceremony.
The Irish stopper kept 19 cleansheets 45 appearences for Middlesbrough in the 2019/20 season, with final game against Rotherham upcoming, and make some miraculous saves to keep Middlesbrough in games.
You’d often hear a collective murmer followed by a round of applause around the Riverside after Randolph stopped a shot which looked destined to hit the back of the net.
This accolade, along with being named in the PFA Championship Team of the Year, will surely raise the interest of current top flight, or Premier League-bound, teams.
No Boro fan could begrudge the 31-year-old if he wanted to move away. Randolph could have easily been the club’s player of the year for two consecutive seasons, had Adama Traore not burst onto the scene in Janauary 2018.
After the last game of the season, Randolph put a message of social media eluding to staying at the club next season… But things change fast in football.
Should Randolph leave Teesside for pastures knew, who could replace the goalkeeper?
Adam Davies – Barnsley
Like Randolph, Davies was a winner at the 2019 PFA awards where he picked up the goalkeeper spot in the League One team of the year.
Davies is fast approaching 200 matches for Barnsley and has just been promoted to the Championship with the Tykes.
His boss, Daniel Stendel, will be hoping to keep the Welshman, who is the club captain, for the 2019/20 season following their success in the third-tier, but one would have thought the chance to play for a side challenging for a play-off place, currently, would be a good step up for the 26-year-old.
Trasnfermarkt value Davies at around £450,000, but Barnsley would be looking to get the most money possible for their shot-stopper.
Christian Walton – Brighton and Hove Albion
Following a season on loan with Wigan Athletic, Christian Walton has shown he has the potential to be a Championship caliber ‘keeper and has potential to grow.
Walton joined Brighton at under-18 level in 2014 and has enjoyed seven different loan moves during his five years on the south coast.
Brighton may not be ready to promote Walton to a starting role, but the 23-year-old will be looking for stability and a starting role for a side, which could be available soon in the North East.
Walton’s Transfermarkt value is at £900,000, but – like for Davies – his club would want to be compensated for losing n up and coming player at an important position.
Fraser Forster – Sothampton
For the majority of Forster’s time with the Saints, he enjoyed success between the sticks and even has himself as a fringe squad player for ex-Boro boss Gareth Southgate’s England side.
Arrivals of goalkeepers such as Angus Gunn and Alex McCarthy have limited Forster’s playing time. The former Celtic and Newcastle shot-stopper only made his first appearance on Ralph Hasenhuettl’s bench last month.
One stumbling block for a deal like this could be wages, as Forster will be on – and most likely would expect – Premier League wages. It seems like Middlesbrough can’t afford to have a hefty wage bill next season so this could be a problem.
This is, however, a route which has proved to be successful in identifying goalkeepers able to succeed in the Championship – as Randolph was purchased after slipping behind Adrian and Joe Hart in West Ham’s pecking order.
Leeds United signed Kiko Casilla from Real Madrid in January 2019 which meant that former Boro academy player Bailey Peacock-Farrell lost his place in the starting XI.
This is more connecting dots here, but should Middlesbrough want to revisit Peacock-Farrell in the future, it could see a return to Teesside for the 22-year-old.
Another name in the Championship could be David Raya of Blackburn. Raya has kept 10 clean sheets behind what even some Rovers fans regard as a sub-par defence.
The Spaniard is also young, 23-years-old, so could have room to grow in the future. Raya is valued at around £900,000 on Transfermarkt.com.
Ultimately it comes down to who is in charge of Middlesbrough next season. Should Randolph leave and Tony Pulis still be incharge, it wouldn’t be unthinkable to see a veteran ‘keeper like Forster come in.
Should Boro look to rebuild more with a younger manager, perhaps Steve Gibson would take a chance on a player with less experience at the Championship level.