Middlesbrough manager Garry Monk has made Newcastle United goalkeeper Karl Darlow his priority signing, according to The Northern Echo.
The Teesside outfit has already had a bid of £5 million rejected, with the Magpies wanting closer to £8 million for the 26-year-old, according to the report.
Whilst Boro were relegated from the Premier League with only five wins in 2016-17, they kept 11 clean sheets, conceding less goals than teams such as Leicester City, Stoke City and Burnley.
This is a testament to their defensive rigour, which is now in doubt with the departure of Brad Guzan and Victor Valdes.
Despite being Rafael Benitez’s first-choice keeper last season, making 34 appearances, it is understood that the Newcastle manger is not entirely convinced by the Englishman and is willing to part with him with an improved offer from Middlesbrough.
The departure of Darlow from St James’ Park could be assisted by Joe Hart joining West Ham United on a season long loan. This has put the future of current Irons keeper Darren Randolph into doubt, with rumours now circulating that the Magpies wish to sign the Irish keeper.
If the deal for the former Nottingham Forest no.1 falls through, the Boro boss could renew his interest in Sheffield Wednesday’s Kieran Westwood and Leeds United’s Rob Green, according to the report.
Monk, who was appointed manger at the Riverside Stadium two weeks after leaving Elland Road, has been given the task of immediate promotion back to the Premier League.
As such the Englishman has been busy in the transfer window and Darlow would be the club’s fifth major signing so far, taking their spending to over £35 million.
With finishing in the top six in the Championship as a priority, Monk must find suitable players to strengthen his squad and the prospect of the Newcastle keeper would certainly be a step in the right direction.
However, any deal will surely be treated by skepticism from the St James’ Park faithful given that the goalkeeper would be defecting to a north east rival.