Middlesbrough FC

Dael Fry only has to look at Ben Gibson to know a move to Burnley is an awful idea

Ross Jackson
Apr 1, 2021, 4:45 PM GMT+1
Dael Fry has been linked with a move to Burnley
Dael Fry has been linked with a move to Burnley | Dan Istitene/Getty Images
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When Neil Warnock was asked about the prospect of Dael Fry moving to Burnley for £10m, you'd have forgiven the fiery Yorkshireman for assuming it was some sort of rubbish April Fool's Day gag.

His response to the suggestion was, erm, well just what you'd expect from him when asked about potentially losing one of his best players, and you can guarantee if he hadn't been sat in front of a load of journalists on a Zoom meeting at the time his response would have contained a few more expletives.

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Unfortunately for the veteran boss, player power is a much bigger aspect of transfer sagas than it was when he started his managerial career back in 1852 - but that doesn't mean he should be resigned to losing the Boro starlet.

Having broken into the Teessiders' first-team setup back in 2015/16, Fry has endured something a of a turbulent time in senior football.

Once lauded as the best thing to come out of the Boro academy since Stewart Downing, the young defender lost his way under the stewardship of Tony Pulis and Jonathan Woodgate, so much so that Everton's reported advances for him had Boro fans offering to piggyback him to Merseyside.

Since the arrival of Warnock on Teesside, a whole host of Middlesbrough players have rediscovered their form, and Fry is without question top of that list.

The 23-year-old suddenly looks like the prodigious talent that broke onto the scene five years ago, with the sloppy distribution and poor positional sense that marred his game for a number of years suddenly a thing of the past.

Dael Fry has been a rock for Middlesbrough since Neil Warnock's arrival
Dael Fry has been a rock for Middlesbrough since Neil Warnock's arrival | Dan Istitene/Getty Images

Of course, we're all well aware that Championship sides aren't allowed to have nice things anymore ever since the likes of Aston Villa and West Ham realised England's second tier is full of top talents, with performances from Ollie Watkins, Ezri Konsa, Jarrod Bowen and Michail Antonio in particular helping to banish the stigma of delving into the lower leagues.

Therefore, it probably didn't come as too much of a shock for Warnock when he was asked of Burnley's mooted interest in Fry, but the youngster would be foolish to be drawn to the bright lights of the Premier League with Burnley.

While the prospect of earning more money at the Clarets will obviously catch the youngster's eye, he'll essentially be getting paid to subscribe to Burnley TV, because the closest he'll come to first-team action will be watching from the bench.

Throughout Fry's development in the Boro academy has was often compared to Ben Gibson, a fellow Middlesbrough lad who cemented his place in the starting XI before moving to Burnley.

Dael Fry struggled for a few years under Tony Pulis and then Jonathan Woodgate
Dael Fry struggled for a few years under Tony Pulis and then Jonathan Woodgate | James Williamson - AMA/Getty Images

His spell at Turf Moor was an utter disaster, with Sean Dyche's first-choice centre-back pairing of Ben Mee and James Tarkowski proving too solid to budge.

Despite Gibson's move being almost three years ago now, nothing has changed at Burnley, and that's why Fry needs to stay put for now.

Of course both Mee and Tarkowski have edged closer to the twilights of their respective careers by this point, but at 31 and 28 respectively you'd imagine Fry will be forced to wait a few seasons yet before he manages to force his way into the starting XI.

Following his failed move to Turf Moor, Gibson has been forced to drop back into the Championship to rebuild his career with Norwich City, and while he was doing just that prior to his recent season-ending injury, at 28 he's missed a huge chunk of his career where he should have been developing and playing regular football.

Much of Ben Gibson's time at Burnley was spent on the bench
Much of Ben Gibson's time at Burnley was spent on the bench | Mark Robinson/Getty Images

The similarities between both Gibson and Fry are there for all to see, and if the latter has any sense he'll heed the warning of the former's dismal time at Turf Moor.

Warnock has worked wonders for Fry's career over the past year, and with the Boro boss confirming he'll be staying at the Riverside Stadium next season, his star defender has to stay put if he's to realise his full potential.

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