MIDDLESBROUGH will withdraw their interest in Jelle Vossen unless Belgian club Genk halve their current asking price for the striker.
Having failed in a £4m pursuit of Vossen last summer, Boro officials have rekindled their interest in the 25-year-old in the last few days and held a number of discussions with their counterparts at Genk.
With another year of Vossen’s contract having expired since they last made an offer, the Teessiders had been hoping to land the forward for around £3m this summer.
However, Genk are understood to have dismissed such a valuation out of hand, and claimed they would be looking for between £7-8m before they would even consider agreeing a deal.
Genk rejected Rubin Kazan’s £6m offer in January, and while Vossen’s reluctance to move to Russia was a major factor in those discussions, the Belgian Jupiler League side are adamant they will not be forced into losing their leading goalscorer for what they feel is a reduced rate.
Boro have initiated preliminary discussions with at least two other strikers – Sunderland’s Danny Graham remains uppermost in their thoughts as the Black Cats look to move him on at a cut-price rate – and chairman Steve Gibson will not be drawn into a bidding war for Vossen, despite having received a number of glowing scouting reports.
Genk have been told to reduce their asking price by around £3-4m before returning to the table for discussions, something their chairman, Herbert Houben, appears extremely reluctant to do.
“A bid of 4m Euros is not enough for a player of this calibre,” said Houben. “We want to fulfil our promise to Jelle (to let him leave this summer), but that does not mean we have to let him go for anything.
“There was a more lucrative offer from Russia in January, at which point we agreed with Jelle to cooperate, but only at that level or similar. There has been no bid like that yet.
“I firmly believe in the next few weeks or months, better offers will come. I understand the less a club gets, the more the players gets, and perhaps he is being hunted and promised heaven. But things have come a long way if it is a player that determines where he will play.”
Boro’s attempts to make transfer progress are being thwarted on a number of fronts, with Huddersfield Town having rebuffed their latest approach for midfielder Adam Clayton.
Boro offered around £1.2m for Clayton at the start of the week, but Huddersfield officials turned down the bid and claimed they had no intention to sell the 25-year-old, who was the subject of an unsuccessful £1m offer from Brighton in January.
Clayton, who recently entered the final year of his current contract, has resisted attempts to get him to sign a new deal at the John Smith’s Stadium, but the Huddersfield hierarchy would prefer to keep him for another season and lose him for nothing next summer rather than accept a cut-price deal now.
Boro chiefs remain hopeful they can be persuaded to alter their stance, and are expected to make a renewed push later this week, with Aitor Karanka having identified Clayton as one of his main summer targets.
Meanwhile, Boro have turned down a Rotherham offer for Richie Smallwood, having granted the midfielder a new one-year contract at the end of last season.