11:02pm Tuesday 20th May 2014
By Paul Fraser
AITOR KARANKA has been told he does not have to oversee a fire sale of his squad as he attempts to make Middlesbrough a force to be reckoned with in the Championship next season.
Karanka, who has rejected an offer to pay around £500,000 to turn Jozsef Varga’s loan in to a permanent arrangement, has made a new right-back, left-back and striker a priority before the new season starts in August.
But, The Northern Echo understands, the Spaniard has been told he does not need to start selling off more than he would like just to raise the funds to freshen up the pool of players he has to call on, with Middlesbrough heading for a sixth year outside the Premier League.
Left-back George Friend has been credited with interesting Nottingham Forest, while it has been claimed that midfielder Grant Leadbitter has caught the eye of Cardiff City and Reading.
But Middlesbrough are in no mood to offload players for the sake of it, knowing the squad is already short of a number of options after their five loan deals expired and the release of Stuart Parnaby, Frazer Richardson and Jayson Leutwiler.
There are players up for grabs, with Marvin Emnes and Lukas Jutkiewicz the most likely candidates to depart amid interest from Swansea City and Bolton following successful respective loan stints. Former England Under-21 goalkeeper Jason Steele’s future is also uncertain after falling behind Dimi Konstantopoulos last season.
But The Northern Echo understands there have been no offers for Emnes nor Jutkiewicz at this stage. Swansea and Bolton were told a fee in the region of £1m could be required for each man to leave on a permanent deal.
Middlesbrough are pursuing a number of leads in the hope of making quick progress and they have been in touch with Bournemouth over striker Lewis Grabban, although a £3m asking price appears a big ask for the Teessiders at this stage.
As revealed yesterday, however, Varga is extremely unlikely to be back at the Riverside next season after Middlesbrough turned down the opportunity to sign him on a full-time basis before the deadline to take up the option expired.
The 25-year-old was impressive under Karanka after switching from centre-midfield to full-back but the Middlesbrough boss has expressed a reluctance to use a chunk of his relatively small transfer budget on him.
It is not completely out of the question that he will return at a later date, but Varga has now resigned himself to having his wish to join Middlesbrough again dashed.
He said: “I know what the truth is because I was speaking with my agent (Vladan Filipovic), he had negotiations with Middlesbrough and the reasons for my departure are not connected with my performance.
“It seems their budget doesn’t allow them to buy me permanently and this is not a matter of my football knowledge and it’s not a personal question (that they didn’t buy me) but they couldn’t reach their goals – they haven’t been able to win promotion for years so they can’t really afford to buy me.
“I have two years left on my contract so it’s possible that I’ll start the season with Debrecen. We’ll see during the summer if there will be interest from other teams.”
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