MIDDLESBROUGH will complete the 3.5m Euros signing of Spanish striker Kike next week, and head coach Aitor Karanka will now press ahead in the hope of adding another front man to his squad.
Boro announced yesterday they had agreed a deal with Murcia for Kike – full name Enrique Garcia Martinez – after the 24-year-old agreed personal terms.
The transfer will be completed when the striker, who finished last season as the second top goalscorer in the Spanish second division, joins up with the Boro squad for a training camp in Marbella on Monday, subject to a successful medical and international clearance.
Kike’s arrival demonstrates a major breakthrough for Karanka having missed out on other targets earlier in the summer, but the head coach wants another front man to boost his attacking options – and Genk’s Jelle Vossen is still a target.
The Belgium outfit want £7m for the striker after they reportedly rejected an initial offer of £3m from the Teessiders last weekend, but The Northern Echo understands Boro will continue to pursue their interest in Vossen, as well as monitoring Danny Graham’s situation.
Vossen has been a long-term target of Boro – the Teessiders had a £4m bid rejected for his services last summer - and despite shelling out around 3.5m for Kike, they could go back to Genk with an improved offer in the coming days.
If so, it will be a show of real intent from chairman Steve Gibson, who is eager to get the club back into the Premier League after a five-year hiatus.
The striker is keen on a move to the Riverside after seven years with the Belgian Pro League outfit, but they do not want their star man to leave cheaply and are holding out for a fee in excess of £7m.
Vossen spoke out against his club yesterday, insisting they had gone back on an agreement to let him move on this summer.
“I'm bitterly disappointed at what Genk's president said,” Vossen told told Belgian newspaper Het Belang van Limburg. “He gave the impression it's all about the money. I'd expected some more respect.
“In January, Rubin Kazan had offered Genk £7m plus add-ons. Genk rejected it and I didn't make a war. We've made the agreement that if there was a good bid in the summer, I would be allowed to go.
“We put an amount on paper and I must admit it's higher than £4m [which Middlesbrough offered], but there was that promise. It's a shame they don't want to fulfil it.
“Four million is a good amount for a Belgian striker, and the add-ons aren't included. If they're waiting for a bid of £7m, they could be waiting for a long time. Certainly after last season. I've lost my place in the World Cup squad and we aren't even playing in the Europa League. I'm ready for a transfer abroad and I would find Middlesbrough a good challenge.”
With Kike’s arrival and Karanka’s desire to sign another striker, Lukas Jutkiewicz looks set to complete a move away from the club next week with Burnley his most likely destination.
The newly-promoted side have agreed to pay around £1.5m for the striker as they look to build a squad to compete in the Premier League after the likes of Bolton Wanderers and Derby were priced out on a move.
While Karanka is in the market for a second striker, the Boro head coach is also looking to bring in a right-back and a central midfielder with Huddersfield Town’s Adam Clayton top of his list.
The Terriers are looking for around £3m for the 25-year-old, but their interest in Kei Kamara could help Karanka land his man.