This article forms part of our Profit Players feature series, which is where Football Transfer Tavern takes a look at how well a player has fared since being signed or sold, using statistical figures and statements from pundits to prove how good of a deal the club managed to achieve.
Middlesbrough spent absolutely nothing to sign Lewis Wing in the summer of 2017, when the natural attacking midfielder moved to the Riverside Stadium as a free agent from non-league side AFC Shildon.
He has since proven himself worthy of two contract extension on Teesside, with Garry Monk first left impressed by his talents after two EFL Cup outings (BBC) and later Tony Pulis, once the Newton Aycliffe-born creator returned from a loan spell in League Two with Yeovil Town having endured a quiet start to life in the North East.
The 24-year-old is now tied to Boro until the summer of 2022, and has been a regular at the Riverside Stadium since returning from his temporary stint at Huish Park, where he featured in 22 games and scored three goals across all competitions (TransferMarkt).
Last season saw Wing make 35 appearances for Boro with 28 outings in his first campaign in the Championship, and he has continued to hold down a regular role for himself under first-time head coach Jonathan Woodgate, making ten outings in the league thus far.
But things have not been perfect for Wing this term, and he earned some unwanted criticism from Gazette Live at the weekend, after Birmingham City boss Pep Clotet enjoyed moderate success by targeting the left-hand side of Boro last Friday night.
They noted how Wing would often leave his left-back unguarded at times, as the defensive duties Woodgate has tasked him with comes unnaturally to someone who has honed his trade on the attacking side of the field.
This is more an issue with Woodgate’s tactics than with Wing’s talents, though, as the forward-thinking midfielder should not be blamed for a manager persisting with tactics that do not suit the men at his disposal.
When tasked correctly, Wing can and has been crucial for Middlesbrough, and is now worth £1.8milllion, per TransferMarkt valuations, making him the eleventh most lucrative asset in the dressing room at the Riverside Stadium, and all for someone signed for free.
Wing is by far not the finished product, either, and will continue to build his market value, which would be sure to jump again if he masters the defensive intentions of Woodgate, having leapt from a £900k-valued talent in February to his current standing in June.
Middlesbrough fans, should Woodgate look to move Wing into a central position to relieve himself of having a player that opponents will try and target? Let us know in the comments below…Like what the TT have on offer? Sign up for more Middlesbrough notifications!