7:00am Thursday 9th January 2014
By Paul Fraser
MIDDLESBROUGH are showing an interest in Bradford City’s Nahki Wells after learning the highly-rated striker could be moving on from Valley Parade this month.
Boro boss Aitor Karanka is keen to make additions to his squad during the January transfer window and has identified the final third as an area of the pitch in need of improvement.
Wells, being courted by a number of other Championship clubs, has caught the eye and has been watched a number of times by Middlesbrough’s scouting team.
Bradford would prefer to keep hold of the 23-year-old boasting 15 goals in 21 appearances in League One this season.
His good form has carried on from last term when he scored 26 in 54 games to help the Bantams to promotion from League Two and reached the final of the Capital One Cup.
Wolves were initially the favourites for the player’s signature but have effectively dropped out of the race after learning of interest from higher league clubs.
There is thought to be at least one Premier League club also keen to strike a deal, although sources close to Valley Parade have been told that Sunderland are not that club despite reports to the contrary.
Championship automatic promotion contenders Burnley and Nottingham Forest are known to have let their interest known in the Bermudan-born forward.
But Bradford, knowing the player’s contract expires in the summer of next year when he will become a free agent, are not willing to let him leave for anything lower than their valuation.
They have previously knocked back a bid in the region of around £1.25m from Peterborough for him and it is understood Bradford would be looking for somewhere in the region of £2-3m.
Wells moved to Bradford in the summer of 2011 after his release from Carlisle United. He has not stopped scoring since Peter Jackson – who had Hartlepool manager Colin Cooper alongside him at the time - decided to hand him a contract.
Middlesbrough are working hard behind the scenes in an attempt to bring more new players in after landing Chelsea’s Nigerian defender Kenneth Omeruo on loan earlier in the week.
There have been talks with Chelsea for other members of Jose Mourinho’s playing squad. French midfielder Gael Kakuta, recently recalled from a loan spell at Vitesse, and Nathaniel Chalobah are two of those most likely to arrive.
Middlesbrough are also looking at players outside of Stamford Bridge, but it is thought Karanka is keen to bring in players with an experience of English football during his first transfer window despite links abroad.
Former Tony Mowbray target Luciano Becchio, meanwhile, is on the look out for a move this month from Norwich City. Blackburn and Derby are among those interested.
Time is running out for Karanka to further add to his squad before Saturday’s trip to Blackpool, although discussions are continuing.
One player who has returned to the club’s Rockliffe Park training base is young midfielder Matty Dolan.
His loan at Hartlepool has come to an end and Middlesbrough have indicated that he has been recalled despite their North-East neighbours being keen to keep him at Victoria Park.
Karanka, who has given Christian Burgess permission to stay at Pools until the end of the season, is believed to want to take a closer look at Dolan before deciding on his future.
That means Hartlepool must plan for this Saturday’s visit of Rochdale without a midfielder who has become an integral part of Cooper’s system.
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