KENNETH OMERUO is keen to have his long term future sorted before he heads to the World Cup - and Middlesbrough are keen to land him for a further season.
Omeruo has just 12 months remaining on his contract at Chelsea and, after a successful loan at the Riverside Stadium, he has opened talks over a new deal at Stamford Bridge.
Negotiations have already stalled because of an offer deemed “unsuitable” by the player’s camp and the Blues have been told to double the initial proposal on the table.
Chelsea are in no desperate rush to get things sorted, although they want to tie him down to a longer term deal after being impressed by his progress since arriving two years ago from Belgium.
Omeruo, however, would prefer to have the situation cleared in his mind sooner rather than later before heading to Brazil. He was named in Nigeria’s provisional 30-man squad along with Newcastle’s Shola Ameobi on Wednesday.
“We want Chelsea to double the offer, but they said they have a new policy for young players who have yet to break in to their first team and this ensures they do not go overboard with their offers,” said Omeruo’s agent, Chika Akujobi.
“But Kenneth has already proven himself in the English Championship which is even more forceful and physical than the English Premier League, which is more about tactics. Chelsea have to come up and they have to do so soon, before the club go on summer holidays.”
Chelsea do not want to lose the centre-back, so it is highly unlikely the contract wrangle will lead to Omeruo joining Boro on a permanent basis.
The chances of a Riverside move are only likely to decrease after the World Cup, with the 21-year-old expected to be an important part of Stephen Keshi’s Nigerian system.
But Middlesbrough manager Aitor Karanka has made no secret of his wish to bring him back to Teesside next season and he has already posed the question to Jose Mourinho.
The two bosses are long term friends, having worked together at Real Madrid, and Mourinho has been regularly updated about Omeruo’s progress since his arrival.
Having initially struggled to work his way in to the Middlesbrough starting line-up, Karanka has tended to rely on the African whenever he has been available in the last couple of months after a string of impressive displays at the back.
The Spanish boss would prefer to have the majority of his squad in place before the players are due to return for pre-season training at the beginning of July. Omeruo is one of five players due to return to their parent clubs ahead of next season.
Nathaniel Chalobah has returned south to Chelsea too, while Jozsef Varga and Tomas Mejias are set for returns to Debrecen and Real Madrid respectively.
One of the biggest issues of the summer for Karanka to face will be to engineer a further loan with Sunderland for striker Danny Graham. The forward has been a success after a slow start on Teesside and he is known to prefer a full-time stay in the North-East.