Why Middlesbrough should make a move for Southampton's Shane Long

Republic of Ireland's Shane Long

Middlesbrough will need to strengthen their squad ahead of their return to the Premier League.

Republic of Ireland's Shane Long dejected after the gameMiddlesbrough should consider a move for Shane Long 

Middlesbrough achieved promotion to the Premier League after finishing second in the Championship last term, but they must ensure they make quality additions to avoid an immediate return to England's second tier.

One of the weak points of Boro's season was their poor goal-scoring record as they were only the eighth highest scorers in the Championship with 63 goals. Their five forwards scored a combined 24 goals in 134 appearances, so it is quite obvious they need to add more fire-power to their attack.

Shane Long scores the first goal for SouthamptonLong would provide Boro with a different dimension in their attacking play

Southampton's Shane Long would be the ideal acquisition. He has the ability to play with his back to goal as a target man but can also utilise his pace to make runs in behind the opposition's defence.

At 29 he is well experienced at Premier League level, and his know-how will be invaluable as the Teessiders look to retain their status as a top-flight club.

The Republic of Ireland international is under contract at Southampton until the summer of 2018, so a substantial bid would be needed for the Saints to even contemplate selling their striker.

Tottenham Hotspur's Danny Rose in action with Southampton's Shane LongLong would command a substantial transfer fee, with two years still remaining on his current deal

If a move ever came to fruition, Long's style of play would be perfectly suited to the North East club. Stewart Downing and Albert Adomah have fantastic ability and always look to get the ball in the box early. With Long as the focal point of their attack, they would have an accomplished target man to provide ammunition for, and the Saints man's aerial ability could be used to full effect.

Whether Southampton would be willing to let another key player leave is another matter entirely, however, following the sales of so many of their prized assets over the past two years.

Italy's Angelo Ogbonna in action with Republic of Ireland's Shane LongLong has tremendous aerial ability, and would be a great addition for Boro

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