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Mowbray happy despite Boro's failed Vossen bid
TONY MOWBRAY is satisfied with the progress Middlesbrough made on the transfer front on deadline day – even if he was unable to bring in the new striker he craved.
Despite his best efforts to land Belgium international Jelle Vossen, Mowbray had to admit defeat before the window closed at 11pm on Monday.
But the double capture of midfielder Jacob Butterfield and versatile forward Kei Kamara did leave the Boro boss with a smile on his face after his busiest deadline day since taking over in October 2010.
Nevertheless, though, he makes no secret of his wish to find the striker he feels can take his team to the next level, while conceding he might have to wait until the January transfer window opens.
Middlesbrough made a substantial offer for Vossen which would have been worth in excess of £4m depending on a number of factors had it gone through.
The 24-year-old striker – also linked with Newcastle and Celtic this summer - is understood to have been keen on a switch to Teesside but his club, Genk, were unhappy with the terms of the agreement so pulled the plug on the deal. Genk’s sporting director Dirk Degraen said: “There was indeed a timid attempt. But there was nothing on the table even to be able to negotiate.”
Mowbray, however, said: “I don’t know if it will be revived. There have been quotes from their club, disappointing quotes. We have been respectful of their club. He would have done well for us and played most weeks. The word timid, which they suggested, was a bit disrespectful.
“He has just signed a new contract so it’s not a case of waiting and there are other targets, we missed out on others.”
But Mowbray was keen to stress the move for Vossen did not necessarily mean there is cash available to spend on the squad.
“Every deal has to be treated on its merits,” he said. “We have to be creative, so it doesn’t mean we have a lot of money to spend. We might feel there is an area of the pitch we could weaken to strengthen a part of the pitch we feel needed strengthening.
“You have to build carefully and patiently. The team is improving and if another player comes up and we feel he can improve the team then we will move on it. The danger is everybody wants everything built today. The proof of the pudding will be in the eating.”
Middlesbrough resisted deadline day inquiries from Nottingham Forest and Wigan for Grant Leadbitter and skipper Rhys Williams respectively. The sale of either of those, thought to have amounted to around £3m and £4.5m, could have seriously boosted the chances of landing Vossen.
But when he sat down at Rockliffe Park yesterday to reflect on the events of Monday, he was happy with the previous day’s dealings. Middlesbrough agreed a three-year contract with Butterfield and a two-year deal with Kamara, 29. Both have options of a further 12 months.
It is understood Middlesbrough paid around £500,000 to Norwich for Butterfield and £900,000 to Sporting Kansas City for Kamara, despite claims from the United States that the sum was around the £1.5m mark.
Whatever figures were involved, Mowbray will be excited to have the two new players in his squad for the trip to Ipswich Town on September 14. Kamara, who has now gone on international duty with Sierra Leone, was a huge hit in Major League Soccer.
Mowbray said: “Kei brings raw power, which is exactly what you need in the Championship, as we have seen in the last few years. Defensively he will help us in our box and in an attacking sense he will bring some versatility.
“He can play up front, play wide, he can play behind the striker. He brings plenty of versatility. Sometimes in football you have to vary the way you try to win games. He gives us other options.”
Butterfield, 23, has been on Mowbray’s radar for the last 18 months. He tried hard to sign him last summer at the end of his contract with Barnsley, only for the player to opt for the Premier League with Norwich.
He never made a league appearance for the Canaries. Mowbray, who remains interested in his former Norwich team-mates Daniel Ayala and Luciano Becchio, said: “He was a boy I met when he was about to leave Barnsley. At the time the Premier League was calling, he was coming back from a bad injury, it hasn’t worked out for whatever reason.
“He is still a talented boy and we now have some time to work with him. He needs to now prove he can get in the team. His passing range is long and short, he has two good feet. I always talk about balance and let’s see if he can impact on that balance. We have lots of games to play and it’s about impacting on that balance.”