AITOR KARANKA has suffered a second blow of the summer in his search for a striker after Lewis Grabban turned his back on a move to Middlesbrough.
Grabban will come up against Boro next season after signing a three-year deal at Norwich City, who suffered relegation from the Premier League.
Bournemouth accepted an offer worth around £3m for the 26-year-old and he opted to head for Carrow Road despite interest earlier in the summer from Cardiff City.
Middlesbrough had been in touch with the Cherries in the hope of bolstering their forward line and they had also been long term admirers of Adam Le Fondre, who joined Cardiff from Reading.
The situation means Karanka is still considering the options on the attacking front in the transfer market, with Sunderland’s Danny Graham still a strong contender to return after a successful loan on Teesside.
Graham’s top-flight wages creates a problem for Middlesbrough, however, so lengthy discussions with the Black Cats would have to take place, particularly as he still has two years remaining on his contract at the Stadium of Light.
Newcastle’s Shola Ameobi, who has decided to leave St James’ Park this summer, is also under consideration, although Hull City and Sydney FC are also keen on landing the World Cup-bound Nigerian international.
Ideally Karanka would have made progress on the transfer front already this summer but he has had to be patient while work goes on behind the scenes.
Grabban was identified as a leading target before the end of last season after shining in the Championship for Bournemouth. He scored 35 goals during a two-year spell on the south coast.
Last season he hit 22 goals to lift Bournemouth up to tenth spot in the division, just 12 months after clinching promotion from League One.
Last month Cardiff agreed to meet the player’s valuation, while Middlesbrough had been in touch to discuss a deal. Grabban said: “It’s good to start a new chapter, get going again with Norwich and hopefully to get promotion.”
Norwich boss Neil Adams explained what Middlesbrough had missed out on. He said: “I’m delighted that Lewis has put pen to paper to become my first signing. He will provide pace, intelligent movement and a high work ethic to the front line and, of course, he showed in the Championship last season that he is capable of scoring a variety of goals.
“Lewis possessed precisely the type of attitude, application and quality that I expect from my players. I am really looking forward to integrating him in to the squad.”
Gary Pallister will be at the Riverside Stadium from 10am today to officially launch Middlesbrough’s new strips.
The former Boro, Manchester United and England defender will be around when the kits go on general sale at the club shop for non-season card holders. Adult shirts are priced at £45, with children’s shirts ranging from £38 to £45.
With the town-centre outlet no longer available, opening hours have been extended at the stadium store from 8am to 8pm today. It will also be open tomorrow from 9am to 5pm and on Sunday from 10.30am to 4.30pm.
Boro have announced they will play newly-promoted League One side Rochdale in a pre-season friendly at Spotland on Saturday, July 26. It’s the second warm-up game to be scheduled following the announcement that Boro will travel to League Two neighbours Hartlepool on Wednesday, July 30 (KO 7.30pm).