MIDDLESBROUGH took their summer recruitment drive to 11 with the capture of attacking duo Jelle Vossen and Yanic Wildschut yesterday, while Jason Steele has joined Blackburn Rovers on a season-long loan.
Boro have also brought in Chelsea’s England Under-19 goalkeeper Jamal Blackman on loan until January 17 as a replacement for Steele, while Seb Hines has joinedCoventry City on loan until January 4.
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Long-term target Vossen has joined on loan until the end of the season from Racing Club Genk, while Dutch winger Wildschut has put pen to paper on a two-year deal at the Riverside Stadium after leaving Heerenveen in a move worth around 800,000euros.
The pair joins Tomas Mejias, Kike, James Husband, Emilio Nsue, Kenneth Omeruo, Damia Abella, Adam Clayton, Ryan Fredericks and Patrick Bamford at the Riverside this summer, and they could be joined by another Chelsea youngster, Lewis Baker, when the Football League loan window opens.
Vossen’s arrival signals the end of the Teessiders’ long pursuit for the striker, who had bids rejected for the Belgium international during the last two transfer windows.
The 25-year-old’s arrival increases head coach Aitor Karanka’s attacking options having lost Marvin Emnes, Lukas Jutkiewicz and Kei Kamara this summer and Vossen will now compete with fellow new signings Kike and Bamford for a place in the side.
Vossen arrives with an impressive scoring record, having scored 105 goals in 244 appearances for the Belgium Pro League outfit, and the striker admitted his relief at finally becoming a Boro player.
“I’m really happy to be here,” Vossen said. “It took some time to get things right but I’m very happy that I can start a new challenge and try to get some good results with the team.
“From the beginning I had a great feeling about Middlesbrough and a lot of confidence in the move. I knew they wanted me badly, so it was very important for me to make the step.”
After Boro had a bid for Vossen turned down earlier this summer, supporters set up a Twitter campaign to #freeJelleVossen, and now the striker hopes he can repay their support.
He said: “It was amazing and crazy seeing all the fans on twitter – followed it even though I didn’t react every day, but it was really nice to see. “Now my goal is to give those people something back, together with the team. This is a huge club with a huge fan base so I will work very hard.”
“People are expecting a lot of goals from me, but I think the most important thing is to get good results with the team.
“If someone else scores a lot as well as me I’ll be very happy. I think that mentality fits well with this club so if work hard it could be a great season.
“I’m really a team player and that’s the most important thing for me. My best quality is that I can score goals, but I don’t want to speak too much about my strengths and weaknesses – that’s for other people to discuss.
“I can only say that I will give my all to this club and hopefully it will be a good season.”
Meanwhile, Wildschut arrived from the Dutch Eredivisie outfit Heerenveen having started his professional career at the famous Ajax Academy, and the 22-year-old winger hopes he can emulate the success of fellow countryman Bolo Zenden and be a hit on Teesside.
He said: “Middlesbrough have been interested in me for a long time, but I wasn’t ready to take the step a few years ago.
“When I heard they wanted me again, I knew straight away I wanted to come here. I’d heard a lot of good stories and I know some former players like Marvin Emnes. It’s a good club and a beautiful place.
“I know that Zenden was a very big player here and hopefully I can do just as well, if not better than him.
“I’ve got a lot of pace and speed – I think I’m strong too, so hopefully that can help us win a lot of points and do well.
“If you play at the Ajax Academy it opens a lot of doors for you because it’s a great club and the coaches are all very experienced – it helped me a lot in my career.
“I think if as a team we build a good team spirit, we can do well and have a good season.”