FINN Azaz isn't used to being in this position.

In recent years at this stage of the summer, the former Aston Villa playmaker has been dealing with transfer uncertainty or settling into new surroundings.

In 2021, Azaz joined Villa but would then link up with Newport County on loan. The following year it was Plymouth and another summer spent spent finding his feet in a new dressing room, before another loan to Argyle was confirmed last summer.

But this year, for the first time in a while, Azaz had clarity. After a "really interesting" pre-season break, rather than heading out on loan he was returning to a permanent club and a dressing room he knows well.

That didn't mean there was no uncertainty. For Azaz, there was the unknown of a first trip to Portugal with Boro. But it was a summer he was relishing after his first half-season on Teesside.

The 23-year-old joined Boro from Villa in January and after quickly establishing himself in Michael Carrick's side looks set to play a leading role next season.


His performances for Boro caught the eye of international selectors, with the attacking midfielder earning a call-up to the Republic of Ireland squad and achieving a dream when he made his first start last month in the friendly win over Hungary.

But now he's back at Boro and raring to go ahead of the coming Championship campaign.

“I’ve had a really interesting summer. I went away and made my full debut for my country, so it’s been a really good summer," he told the club website.

"It was amazing. And to get the win as well, get another camp in getting to know all of the lads, it was great.”

“It’s been a little different for us international lads this summer because we came back a week later. But we had some sessions to do while we were still off. You miss the first week in terms of being around the lads, but we still had to do the running.

"I personally did my sessions, so it wasn’t too hard to then come back into the group. There was about a week where they kind of looked after us a bit at first, but now we’re fully back in.

“It’s nice to be back. This is my first proper pre-season in maybe like four years now. It’s nice to actually come back to the same group and people that I already know."

Boro's squad travelled out to Portugal on Sunday for a week-long training camp in the sun, which ends with a friendly against Vitoria SC on Saturday.

Azaz said: “I wasn’t really sure what it would be like coming to Portugal - like what the sessions would be like and stuff. I’ve not done the trip before.

"My focus is just on getting through the sessions and I’m also hoping to use pre-season to work on a few things that I really want to improve on from last season. It’s gone really well so far and you do look forward to the games coming. We’ve got a few friendlies coming up and it’s not long until we start the season.

"Everything’s been good so far, the sessions have been good and we’ve been pushing each other through them as a group. I can’t wait for the start of the season now.”