MIDDLESBROUGH have been warned there is extra competition for the signature of striker Jelle Vossen as the drive to enhance Aitor Karanka’s squad continues.
As Boro attempt to put the finishing touches to Kenneth Omeruo’s second spell at the Riverside Stadium this week, it has emerged Genk are still digging their heels in over a fee for Vossen.
The Belgium international has made no secret of his wish to move to Teesside to try to spearhead a promotion push for the Premier League, but Middlesbrough are unwilling to match his club’s €7m valuation.
The stand-off, with Middlesbrough looking to pay around half that figure, has created openings for other clubs and Genk are making noises across the North Sea that other bidders have entered the race for him.
Greek club Olympiacos are being touted as one of the leading contenders after beginning their search to add firepower having lost main striker Joel Campbell, who has returned to Arsenal after a loan.
Vossen wants to play in England and has repeatedly stressed that to the Genk board, but it could also boil down to finance. If Olympiacos, planning for a further season in the Champions League, decide to follow up tentative interest then they could go nearer to the price-tag.
Genk are understandably reluctant to sell him for less than the figure that previous clubs have tabled. Both Cardiff City, who are no longer interested, and Rubin Kazan have gone somewhere near the quoted fee in the last 12 months.
Vossen has made 184 appearances for Genk and scored 77 goals. Middlesbrough have already paid £2.7m for Spanish striker Kike, who scored twice in a pre-season friendly win over Marbella on Monday, but are keen to add another forward.
Karanka hopes to conclude a deal for Huddersfield midfeidler Adam Clayton, while Omeruo is set to strengthen defensive ranks once more after ending the season well in a Middlesbrough shirt.
It had been suggested that Queens Park Rangers had emerged as realistic contenders for the Nigerian World Cup player, but Harry Redknapp turned his attentions elsewhere. He had already persuaded Rio Ferdinand to move to Loftus Road and last night QPR confirmed the signing of Cardiff’s Steven Caulker too.
Omeruo Tweeted on Sunday that he was heading back to Teesside after Jose Mouriho had indicated to the African that he will gain greater experience from playing week in and week out in the Championship.
And now that Karanka has his players back at Rockliffe Park he hopes to see the good work from a pre-season trip to Spain carry over to the domestic stage. Boro travel to Rochdale this Saturday.
He said: “We had one bad game and that was difficult for us but after that game we had a very good week. It’s been positive because the group is stronger. We were there for eight days and the training ground was good, the weather was good, and the facilities were good. The players worked hard which is why we went out there. Now, we can come back and rest for a couple of days and we go again on Saturday.”