Middlesbrough defender Dani Ayala has been linked to Leeds United this week. With the 29-year old’s contract coming to an end in the summer, Boro may be prepared to cash in.

Middlesbrough may be forced to sell the centre back if they aren’t able to agree terms to extend Ayala’s contract, and Leeds are circling to take full advantage and sign the Spaniard as early as January.

Here are three reasons why Boro shouldn’t allow Ayala to leave:

1. Lack of centre backs

Middlesbrough are very short in numbers in central defence, with only two natural centre backs in the first team picture at the moment.

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Ayala and Dael Fry are playing every single week at the back. Although full backs Ryan Shotton and George Friend have deputised there, as has central midfielder Paddy McNair, the versatile trio would undoubtedly like to be deployed in their preferred positions.

If Ayala was to leave, this would leave Boro in a position where they would need to dip into the transfer market for cover, which they may struggle to do, given finances are tight.

2. Ayala provides vital experience

Jonathan Woodgate’s side sit 22nd in the table, winless in nine, and this could get even worse by the time the January transfer window rolls around.

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They will be in need of leaders out on the pitch, and with Ayala their vice-captain, he will be vital to their chances of staying in the division.

3. Strengthening a rival

Leeds are in need of cover at centre-back. Liam Cooper and Brighton loanee Ben White have been the preferred pairing, with Gaetano Berardi and youngster Leif Davis providing cover.

Ayala would be an experienced addition to the ranks at Elland Road, but Middlesbrough would be strengthening a team competing in the same division, and the hierarchy at The Riverside may want to keep one of their prized assets for themselves if they can help it.