Boro boss weighs up Football League moves

Pondering: Aitor Karanka is thinking of new signings

Pondering: Aitor Karanka is thinking of new signings

First published in Sport
Last updated
The Northern Echo: Photograph of the Author by , Chief Football/Golf Writer

AITOR KARANKA is considering Middlesbrough’s transfer options in the Football League in the hope of building a promotion winning side for next season.

After suggesting to chairman Steve Gibson and the club’s recruitment team that the foreign market should not be the only area to concentrate on, the Spaniard is working on a list of possible targets to work on over the next few months.

The strength of his power in the summer window is likely to depend on any outgoing deals, with the likes of Marvin Emnes, Lukas Jutkiewicz and Jason Steele the most likely contenders to command a fee.

There has also been interest expressed in George Friend, Grant Leadbitter, Mustapha Carayol and Rhys Williams in the recent past, although the chances of offers being tabled for the latter two have been reduced after suffering long term injuries.

Karanka does want to make wholesale changes to a pool of players which actually served him relatively well after taking over from Tony Mowbray last October. He has, though, made no secret of his wish to freshen things up in a bid to make Boro a genuine promotion contender next season.

There are already a number of players under consideration. Previous transfer targets such as Reading’s Adam Le Fondre have never really disappeared off the club’s radar, while fresh season-long loan deals for Chelsea pair Kenneth Omeruo and Nathaniel Chalobah are seen as important additions.

But new names have surfaced this week as Middlesbrough begin the task of coming up with contenders to come in to boost Karanka’s squad.

As well as Huddersfield’s Adam Clayton being talked about, Karanka’s chief scout Gary Gill is said to have recommended Bournemouth’s Lewis Grabban.

The 26-year-old hit 22 goals in the Championship for the Cherries and Cardiff City, following relegation to the second tier, are prepared to match a £3m clause in the player’s contract.

Whether Middlesbrough can match that figure depends on possible departures. Either way, Grabban is trying not to focus on a possible summer move.

“The thing with speculation is you never know if it is true or not. If teams from the Premier League are interested in me then that is flattering,” said Grabban. “As a player, it is a compliment to be linked with other clubs.

"Everyone has ambitions to play in the Premier League, I think it is the same for every footballer but at the moment they are just rumours.”

Grabban only signed a new deal in January after he resisted the opportunity to join Brighton, who met the previous £1.1m clause that should have triggered a move.

Middlesbrough defender Ben Gibson has been rewarded for an impressive season at the Riverside with his first England Under-21s call.

Gibson is now in contention to earn his first caps against Wales in a European Championships qualifier on May 19 before travelling to the Toulon tournament from May 20-June 2.

England face Brazil on May 26, Korea on May 28 and Colombia on May 30. Boro's young player of the year joins Chalobah in Gareth Southgate's squad.

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