Why Middlesbrough have struck gold with a new deal for Hayden Coulson
The 21-year-old left-back, who has enjoyed a first-team breakthrough under Jonathan Woodgate this term, was set to be out of contract in 2020, but Boro have moved quickly to secure his future with a new deal.
Coulson, who made his senior professional bow for Middlesbrough in the 3-3 draw against Luton Town on the opening night of the Championship back in August, has clocked up 12 league appearances for the Teessiders so far.
The highly-rated academy graduate is yet to register a single goal or an assist but he has caught the eye with a string of impressive displays down the left-hand side of the pitch, with Woodgate rotating him between left-back and left wing-back roles.
Born in Gateshead, Coulson rose through the youth ranks of Middlesbrough and burst on to the scene in the UEFA Youth League during the 2015-16 campaign before signing his first professional contract with the club back in July 2016.
The 21-year-old featured regularly across various age-group levels, playing a part in the club’s EFL Trophy and FA Youth Cup campaigns before heading north of the border to join St.Mirren on loan in the summer of 2018.
Following his premature return from Scotland, Coulson spent the second half of the previous campaign on loan at Cambridge United in League Two in a bid to gain more professional exposure at the highest level.
With Woodgate showing an inclination to promote some of the club’s academy prospects to the first-team after taking over the reins in the summer, the left-back has grabbed his opportunities with both hands to his mark in the Championship this term.
Despite the Teessiders enduring a rather lacklustre first half of the campaign, Coulson has undoubtedly been a bright spark and his consistently impressive displays in his breakthrough season have earned him rave reviews.
As per whoscored, Coulson has clocked up 903 minutes of first-team football in the Championship this season, averaging 2.3 tackles, 1.3 interceptions, 0.6 key passes, 2 dribbles, 0.5 crosses and 1.2 long balls per game, figures which lie testament to his well-rounded attributes as a modern-day full-back in the making.
To put things into perspective, it is easy to see why a new deal for Hayden Coulson is a step in the right direction for Middlesbrough, who are very much a club in transition under the stewardship of Woodgate.
The arrival of Woodgate at the helm of affairs has sparked a restructuring of the entire academy system at the Riverside Stadium, with the establishment of a clear pathway from the youth ranks to the first-team one of the top agendas of the manager’s long-term project.
Coulson has been the beneficiary of such a policy and has made the most of his opportunities in the Championship this season alongside fellow academy starlets Stephen Walker, Aynsley Pears and Djed Spence.
Hence, a new deal for Coulson is yet another instance of the club’s renewed faith in blooding young talents in the first-team and the 21-year-old has already shown that he has the talent and the potential to take Boro to greater heights in the future.
The left-back, who has previously represented England at U-17 and U-18 levels, seems to have a big future ahead of him and he has certainly made significant strides towards fulfilling his potential under the tutelage of Woodgate, who has handed the club’s academy prospects a new lease of life.
With experienced campaigners like George Friend, Daniel Ayala, Jonny Howson, Ryan Shotton and Marvin Johnson all out of contract in 2020, it remains to be seen what kind of a stance Boro adopt regarding the future of some of their first-team mainstays.
However, the fans will be hoping to see the likes of Pears and Spence following in the footsteps of Coulson in committing their futures to the club with new deals before the end of the season.
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To that end, a new deal for Hayden Coulson looks like an excellent piece of business and one that clearly outlines the club’s plans moving forward under Woodgate.