6:06am Thursday 29th May 2014
MIDDLESBROUGH hope Cardiff City’s double signing this week has boosted Aitor Karanka’s own hopes of landing Lewis Grabban.
Cardiff, following relegation from the Premier League, have proven they mean business as they look to bounce straight back up from the Championship by landing strikers Federico Macheda and Adam Le Fondre already.
Le Fondre, expected to sign a three-year deal after a £1m fee was agreed, has also been admired by Middlesbrough dating back to Tony Mowbray’s time in charge but Cardiff have tempted Reading in to a sale.
The 27-year-old will join Macheda, who has left Manchester United after becoming a free agent, in South Wales next season and manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is still expected to make further changes to his squad in the weeks ahead.
Cardiff – who are already thought to have a deal in place for Real Valladolid’s front-man Javi Guerra - have had an offer for Grabban verbally accepted, with suggestions claiming there is a £3m release clause in the Bournemouth man’s contract.
But Middlesbrough are also keen and after Cardiff’s successful moves for Macheda and Le Fondre it will be hoped on Teesside that the double capture can strengthen their chances of landing the former.
Boro are not expecting anything significant to happen on the transfer front imminently and it would be ideal for the club if they could raise further funds by selling Marvin Emnes and Lukas Jutkiewicz.
There have not been any firm offers tabled for either player so far, although Swansea are expected to push through a £1m permanent deal after doing enough to impress the manager at the Liberty Stadium, Garry Monk.
Any money raised would clearly help Middlesbrough in their pursuit of their own transfer targets, with Grabban known to be high on their list of preferred attacking options.
The 26-year-old joined Bournemouth from Rotherham two years ago for £300,000 and has caught the eye of Championship rivals after scoring 22 goals last season.
Middlesbrough, who have lost Danny Graham following the end of his loan from Sunderland, would like another forward even if they landed Grabban before the start of next season. A couple of full-backs, to play either side, are also a priority.
One other player Middlesbrough will have to make a decision on this summer is Richie Smallwood. The locally produced midfielder helped Rotherham to promotion via a Wembley play-off final on Sunday and the Millers would like to have him back next season.
Smallwood, 23, has another year on his contract to run so Rotherham manager Steve Evans must decide whether to make an official offer or to try to engineer a further loan when the action restarts in August. Karanka could also decide he wants to keep him.
Smallwood said: “I’ll enjoy my time off for a couple of weeks and then see what happens. Of course, there is a chance anything can happen in football. I enjoyed my time there, I would definitely come back if the move was right. We’ll see what happens in the summer.”
The Dormanstown middle-man made 20 appearances for Rotherham and scored their last penalty against Leyton Orient in the shoot-out at the weekend.
“I have had a great time,” said Smallwood. “I wanted to get games and get used to winning, I knew that they were pushing up the table and I wanted to be part of that. Thankfully I have been and it’s brilliant.
“I never thought I would play at Wembley, never mind score a penalty. I’ve had a great time over the last few months.”
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