By Paul Jones
Swansea City are keen to strengthen their squad by signing former Liverpool defender Daniel Ayala from Middlesbrough.
The centre-back is a free agent after refusing to sign a short-term extension to his Middlesbrough contract when football returned from the coronavirus shutdown in June.
But Swansea head coach Steve Cooper is likely to face competition from a number of clubs – including those in Ayala’s homeland of Spain – for the 29-year-old.
Ayala played 25 matches for Boro last season, but his most recent appearance was on New Year’s Day after he fell out of favour with former manager Jonathan Woodgate.
Woodgate was then replaced by Neil Warnock, but Ayala did not figure under the ex-Cardiff City boss after refusing to agree to a short-term contract extension.
Cooper has strength in depth at the centre of his defence with Joe Rodon, Ben Cabango and Marc Guehi – whose loan deal from Chelsea is expected to be renewed – but will lack an experienced figure, if, as expected, Mike van der Hoorn leaves the club.
The Dutchman has been unable to agree a new deal for over a year and is now expected to move on.
Ayala would be seen as a guiding influence in the absence of van der Hoorn, but Cooper is likely to face competition from Birmingham City, who have recently appointed former Boro boss Aitor Karanka as their new manager.
But Cooper also knows Ayala well, having worked with him in the youth ranks at Liverpool.
Ayala has impressive experience in the Championship and captained Middlesbrough during nearly seven years on Teeside. He has also played for Hull, Derby, Norwich and Nottingham Forest.
Cooper has admitted he is likely to be given no money to spend this summer and says: “We’ve got to try and bring in some players to see us improve in certain positions.
“We’re not going to be spending money and we’re not going to be buying our way up and out of the league.
“Our plan is to be creative with our recruitment in terms of free transfers and loans.”
Cooper also wants a central midfielder and is hopeful of re-signing Liverpool forward Rhian Brewster, Newcastle goalkeeper Freddie Woodman, and Guehi on loan for a second campaign.
Midfielder Conor Gallagher – who joined Swansea on loan from Chelsea in January – is unlikely to return to the Liberty Stadium with Crystal Palace interested.
Swansea are also set to release Nathan Dyer but Kyle Naughton and Wayne Routledge have been offered new deals.