DAMIA ABELLA is expected to complete his free transfer to Middlesbrough on Monday, with further talks over the future of Huddersfield Town midfielder Adam Clayton planned for the weekend.
He has subsequently returned to Spain and will not be involved in today’s opening game of the Championship season against Birmingham City.
However, his two-year deal should be confirmed at the start of next week, with Boro head coach Aitor Karanka delighted to have finally ended his lengthy search for a new right-back.
Karanka initially pursued Juanfran after opting not to take up the option of a permanent deal for Jozsef Varga, but turned his attentions to Abella when he was unable to complete a deal for his first-choice target.
The Spaniard will not be considered for Tuesday’s Capital One Cup first-round game at Oldham Athletic, but should be available for next weekend’s league game at Leeds United.
Clayton could also be in the Boro squad for the trip to Elland Road after a renewed round of discussions with Huddersfield officials resulted in some progress yesterday afternoon.
Having previously rejected a move to Huddersfield’s John Smith’s Stadium, Jacob Butterfield was finally persuaded to at least hold talks with the Terriers.
Butterfield has not still conclusively agreed to move to West Yorkshire, but the midfielder has softened his stance considerably in the last 24 hours and is now not expected to be part of the Boro squad for today’s game with Birmingham.
Instead, he will continue to ponder his future, with Huddersfield officials hoping to be able to complete a deal at the start of next week.
That would enable Boro to sign off their own capture of Clayton, with the proposed personal terms of the 25-year-old’s move already having been agreed with his representatives.
Yesterday morning, Mark Robins claimed he was minded to select Clayton for Huddersfield’s opening game of the season against Bournemouth, but subsequent developments mean it would now be a surprise if the midfielder was part of the Terriers squad.
As well as pursuing Abella and Clayton, Karanka is also hoping to add to Middlesbrough’s loan contingent next week, with further arrivals from Chelsea in the pipeline.
Karanka has been pushing Jose Mourinho to allow striker Patrick Bamford to move to the Riverside on a season-long loan, while George Saville was also discussed as a possible target before the midfielder expressed reservations about moving to Teesside.
Kenneth Omeruo has already rejoined Boro after spending the second half of last season on loan at the club, and the Nigeria international is expected to slot in at right-back this afternoon, with either Daniel Ayala or Jonathan Woodgate partnering Ben Gibson at centre-half.
There has been a degree of criticism from within the Championship at Boro becoming something of a finishing school for Chelsea’s youngsters, but Karanka has rejected claims that the relationship between the two clubs is purely the result of an ‘old pal’s act’ between himself and his close friend, Mourinho.
“Our relationship with Chelsea is good because it is healthy for all parties,” said the Boro head coach. “It is not just because Jose and I are good friends.
“We are friends, but the most important thing is that the deals make everyone happy. Ken came last season and, at the beginning he didn’t play, but he finished the season playing in the World Cup.
“He is here again because he was happy at Middlesbrough, and Chelsea are happy sending him here again. They believe Middlesbrough are a good club to send players to develop and grow. We have the same philosophy as Jose.”
While Omeruo will be involved as Boro attempt to hit the ground running this afternoon, Karanka has revealed that he does not expect to have long-term absentees Rhys Williams and Mustapha Carayol available until the turn of the year.
Williams is still recovering from the Achilles injury he sustained in January, while Carayol damaged his knee ligaments at Bournemouth in the closing stages of last season, and neither player is anywhere close to a return.
“It is going to be a long, long time for them both,” said Karanka. “They still have a long way to go in their recoveries. I am not really expecting them back until the January transfer window. If either of them is available before that, it will be a bit of a bonus.”