Birmingham is "in race" to finish its free transfer, but there's a catch
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Birmingham is “in race” to finish its free transfer, but there’s a catch



Before the summer transfer market opens, Birmingham City is said to have shown interest in defender Luke Ayling. However, in order to keep him at St Andrew’s, Birmingham City would need to stay in the Championship. Ayling’s Leeds United contract is set to expire this summer, so he will be free to pursue other opportunities as a free agent. For now, he is on loan at Middlesbrough until the end of the current campaign.

Midway through the current season, Ayling was given the chance to join Championship rivals Boro after he had lost his starting spot at promotion-chasing Leeds under Daniel Farke. Since then, the right-back, who turns 33 in August, has been a regular in the team led by Michael Carrick. Ayling spent seven and a half years at Elland Road and made over 250 appearances for the Whites.

But since coming to the Riverside, Carrick has relied on Ayling, and his Boro team has been playing well recently even though they were eliminated from the playoffs. Of his eighteen appearances, Ayling has played 90 minutes in all but four of them, including the most recent loss to Leeds, in which he was not allowed to play for his parent club.

If the Blues are to stay in the division, which will depend on their uncompromising victory over Norwich City the following Saturday and favorable outcomes at Plymouth Argyle, Blackburn Rovers, and Sheffield Wednesday, they will need to make some hiring decisions. Ayling’s right-back backup in the past, Cody Drameh, was also under contract at Leeds; however, it is unclear if the Blues will look to sign him permanently.

Should they choose not to extend a contract to Drameh, Ethan Laird would become the only senior right-back on Blues’ roster, and the club would have to spend another summer looking for full-back options on the transfer market. In that regard, Ayling would provide competitiveness and experience at right-back, although in that case, the Blues would naturally face opposition.

According to The Sun, Sheffield United, who lost badly to Newcastle United on Saturday and were officially relegated from the Premier League, is also looking for a full-back. They may be able to give Ayling a chance to stay in Yorkshire. Then there is Boro, who since Ayling’s January transfer have once again offered regular Championship action.

Carrick stated of Ayling back in March following Boro’s 1-0 victory over Blues at St Andrew’s: “As things stand right now, that’s obviously what’s next. You’re always playing for something.” That’s not even the first thing that comes to mind when he looks at him. He’s all in; he wants to win games for us and do well. Let’s see. Over the coming months, that will transpire as it is going to transpire.”

With six assists, Ayling has helped Boro’s recent success. He lives up to his reputation as a raiding full-back who has an impact on games in the opposition half. In their last 11 league games, Boro has won six, drawn four, and lost only once, against Leeds 4-3, in a match that, as was previously indicated, Ayling was not allowed to play in.

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