JON OBI MIKEL has been on Teesside looking to finalise a move to Middlesbrough after Tony Pulis outlined that he would like him to boost the Championship promotion charge.

Despite the fact Boro are not looking to increase the wage bill this month, Pulis would like to have him on board if a deal can be secured.

And if Mikel - who has undergone a medical - does get the deal he is looking for, after seeing a move to Crystal Palace breakdown last week, then that is likely to coincide with further departures at the Riverside.

Grant Leadbitter and Stewart Downing are two of the strongest candidates to be moved out given their situations, and both are not likely to start in the league during the run-in as things stand.

Martin Braithwaite has already left but he will be due back from his loan at Leganes in the summer, while others on lucrative deals such as Britt Assombalonga could leave if the right offers come along.

Interest in Mikel is strong even though Middlesbrough have a number of midfielders already have at the club, and Mo Besic, George Saville and Paddy McNair all signed in the summer. The Nigerian is more suited to playing the role that Adam Clayton tends to play currently.

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He turns 32 in April and is now a free agent after spending two years in China. He opted for Chinese Super League side Tianjin Teda, where he was given a huge deal, after Chelsea told him they would not be renewing his contract at Stamford Bridge.

But after the last couple of seasons in the Far East, Mikel is keen to head back to England and he is known to have held talks with Middlesbrough last week but there was a reluctance to do a deal.

However, the chances of a deal have resurfaced. He won plenty of trophies during his time at Chelsea, including two Premier League titles and the Champions League.

Mikel accepts he will not be able to earn the sort of money he was on in China and has decided that he would rather be at a club where he can hold down a first team shirt in a challenging division.

There is also interest in him from Derby, where his former Chelsea team-mate Frank Lampard is in charge, and that could yet lead to a late change of heart.

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Jon Obi Mikel 

Age: 31

Nationality: Nigerian

Last club: Tianjin TEDA Football Club, China

Previous clubs: Lyn, Chelsea

Pulis is desperate for reinforcements, while he has spoken regularly of the need to let players go first.

Another player who could yet find himself targeted by Pulis again is Yannick Bolasie. Everton are looking to let the winger go out on loan again after he exercised a clause in his loan deal with Aston Villa that has seen him return to Goodison Park early.

Bolasie chose Villa over Middlesbrough in the summer after he visited Rockliffe Park to meet Pulis, who worked with him at Crystal Palace, and discuss the possibility of a loan switch.

His £70,000-a-week wages, which were all paid by Aston Villa, would be a headache for Middlesbrough if they try to do a deal without moving others on. Everton, though, are not looking to keep him for the rest of the season.

While a midfielder was not understood to have been a priority of his before, he is known to have wanted extra pace and quality in attack which is why he brought in Huddersfield’s Rajiv van la Parra.

He is also keen on Sunderland striker Josh Maja but faces competition from West Ham and Cardiff, among others. A new full-back to compete with George Friend for a starting spot was also in his thinking.

It is shaping up to be a busier than expected end to the window for Middlesbrough because of the prospect of deals out as well as in.

Downing’s situation doesn’t help either and he is expected to have talks about his contract later this week with chairman Steve Gibson.

Pulis would like the club and Downing to find a compromise so that he can play him in the remaining months of the season.

As things stand the manager has been told that he can’t hand the former England winger one more start because that would trigger an extension to his contract. He has been a sub recently.