Sheffield Wednesday are ready to make an audacious double move for centre-backs Grant Hanley and Daniel Ayala.
Boss Carlos Carvalhal is keen to bolster his defensive options over the summer and The Star understands the Owls are poised to step up their interest in Newcastle United’s Hanley and Middlesbrough’s Ayala.
Wednesday are thought to have recently inquired about the pair’s services and are considering submitting offers for Hanley and Ayala.
The club also have Cardiff City’s Sean Morrison on their list of potential targets and reports emerged last night that a £3million bid for the Bluebirds skipper had been turned down.
It is no secret the Owls’ hierarchy are big fans of Hanley and Ayala, having explored the possibility of recruiting them last year.
Scotland international Hanley joined Newcastle 11 months ago but has found first-team opportunities hard to come by at St James’ Park, making just 11 starts in all competitions. The former Blackburn Rovers trainee has been told he can leave the Magpies, who are preparing for life back in the Premier League and hope to sign two new centre-halves.
Derby are thought to have pulled out of the race to sign Hanley, having captured Curtis Davies from Hull.
Hanley has four years remaining on his five-year Newcastle contract and is reportedly earning £45,000-a-week wages.
Ayala, meanwhile, struggled to command a place in Boro’s side, starting on just 14 occasions. A long-standing ankle problem limited his game time and the Spaniard was often overlooked by former boss Aitor Karanka.
The 26-year-old, previously of Liverpool and Norwich, was dismissed in Boro’s 3-0 FA Cup victory against Wednesday in January.
The Owls have strong links with Middlesbrough, signing Adam Reach and Jordan Rhodes from the Riverside club in 2016/17.
A lack of strength in depth at centre-half cost Wednesday at times last term. Tom Lees, Glenn Loovens and Sam Hutchinson all had spells on the sidelines with injuries. Hutchinson was switched back into midfield in November to give them extra steel.
As well as a new defender, a new winger and central midfielder also feature highly on Wednesday’s summer shopping list as they aim to reshape their squad.
Carvalhal said: “It is important to get the right pieces in the jigsaw puzzle. We know exactly what we need. We will try to bring in players to discuss a place in the 11. We have a good squad but we are confident we can upgrade the team.”