A question on lips all around this Summer, as Boro returned to the Championship, was about the future of Ben Gibson.
The local lad had a season to remember, playing every minute of every league game and earning himself his first England call up. He had made his mark on the Premier League.
There was apparent interest from the Top Four, but West Brom were the only side to make a formal offer for the Teessider.
With other English defenders, such as Harry Maguire and Michael Keane making big money transfers to Leicester and Everton respectively, many thought Gibson would be the next to move.
So far in this window (*touch wood*) no team has met Middlesbrough’s valuation of the 24-year-old.
Gibson’s start to the season and his solid looking partnership with fellow Smoggie Dael Fry could be about to boost his stock even higher.
While most of Garry Monk’s attention in this transfer window has been on bringing in fire power, a solid defence is still paramount in Boro’s aim to make it back to England’s top flight at the first time of asking.
If Gibson and Fry can maintain what has looked to be a solid partnership, then the hierarchy on Teesside will be even more reluctant to let Gibson leave the Riverside.
In my opinion, the potential partnership between the two young defenders should add another £10 million to the valuation of Gibson.
It will send out a message that Steve Gibson values the chance of promotion higher than he values the potential assets at the club.
In the past, Ben Gibson and Daniel Ayala have had a tremendous statistical partnership at this level. Boro have only lost three on 53 league games when the two have started along side one another.
Fry’s place in Monk’s starting XI looks to be reasonably safe at the moment though, and unless his form takes a significant turn for the worse (or he decides to assist the opposition striker like a certain Mr Ayala) he could become a feature in the starting XI.
A solid centre half pairing is key for any football team. Even though they fell short of the play-offs last year, Monk’s former team Leeds had Kyle Bartley and Pontus Jansson at the heart of defence for the majority of last season.
It is so important that Middlesbrough keep their best players if they want to have a shot at promotion. But also in a world where John Terry is playing for Aston Villa, it is nice to see the emergence of two local players who have been given their chance and are thriving at this level.
Boro have a history of blooding through great centre halves, but it has been years since two have played at in the same team. These two have the chance to be the best partnership to come out of Middlesbrough since the Parmo and Garlic sauce