PAOK SALONIKA are closing in on a deal for Chuba Akpom – little more than a year after selling the striker to Middlesbrough.

Akpom left PAOK to move to Teesside in a £2.75m deal last summer, but his time at the Riverside has hardly gone to plan.

He struggled to hold down a first-team place under Neil Warnock last season, with the Boro boss criticising the recruitment procedures that led to him being signed in the first place, and has not started a single senior game this term.

He was omitted from the matchday squad for Saturday’s goalless draw at Derby, with Warnock suggesting he could not see him getting back into the first-team picture in the remainder of the campaign.

“He wasn’t here today,” said the Boro boss. “I didn’t think he contributed enough much the other night so I gave him the weekend off.”

A number of clubs have held talks with Boro officials over his potential availability, with Turkish side Galatasaray known to be interested in completing a deal.

However, PAOK officials have stepped up their discussions in the last 48 hours and are close to agreeing a season-long loan deal that would see Akpom, who is contracted to the Riverside until the summer of 2023, return to Greece.

The Greek media are reporting that Middlesbrough will also agree to a clause that would enable PAOK to turn the loan into a permanent move next summer.

Akpom scored 14 goals in 54 appearances during his previous spell with PAOK, which came after he was released from Arsenal.