AITOR KARANKA is hoping to complete the capture of both Damia Abella and Adam Clayton before the weekend, but neither player is expected to feature in Middlesbrough’s opening Championship game against Birmingham City.
Karanka has targeted “two or three more” additions before the end of the transfer window, with Abella having travelled to the North-East yesterday to complete the formalities of a move from Spanish side Osasuna.
While Clayton’s proposed move from Huddersfield Town was delayed when Jacob Butterfield expressed serious reservations about a reciprocal switch to West Yorkshire, Boro’s pursuit of Abella stepped up a gear when the right-back finally engineered his exit from Osasuna, who were relegated from La Liga last season.
That enabled Boro to approach the 32-year-old, who won a Spanish league winners’ medal in 2004, as a free agent, and the parties are expected to agree a two-year deal once the formalities of a medical are completed.
“I know him very well because he has played in Spain for a long time now,” said Karanka. “He is a very good player and a very good lad.
“He is powerful, and a veteran player with experience. He speaks English and is a player who I would like to have, but I do not think there is any chance of being able to do anything before the weekend.
“The right-back position is the one that has been giving me most concern. It is a position where we have not really had anyone.
“That has been a worry, but I have always said that I would prefer to wait for another few days or another few weeks if it meant I could get the right player. I didn’t want to sign a player in a hurry, and then in one or two weeks, think we made a mistake.”
Boro officials thought they had made a significant breakthrough in their pursuit of Clayton earlier in the week, with Huddersfield having agreed to a proposed deal that would have seen Butterfield moving in the opposite direction to the John Smith’s Stadium.
The agreement hit a hitch when Butterfield, who trained with the rest of the Boro squad at Rockliffe Park yesterday morning, refused to join the Terriers, although talks were ongoing yesterday afternoon in an attempt to persuade him to alter his stance.
Huddersfield are still willing to sell Clayton, but their manager, Mark Robins, is demanding that an experienced replacement is in place before the midfielder is allowed to leave. Conor Coady completed a £375,000 move from Liverpool to Huddersfield on Tuesday, but Robins regards the 21-year-old as a future prospect rather than a direct replacement for Clayton.
“Adam Clayton is a very good player, but at the moment he is not my player and I prefer to just speak about the players that are my players,” said Karanka.
“Jacob Butterfield is my player. At the moment, he could be the best player in his position because he is my player. In one day, two days, one week or one month, I do not know what will happen. But at the moment, I will only say good things about Butterfield because he is a very good player.
“The club is speaking with some other clubs and agents to try to improve the squad, and we have had a few meetings to try to do that.”
As well as hoping to close out the deals for Abella and Clayton, Karanka is also targeting the addition of one more striker before the transfer window closes.
Kike has completed a £2.8m move from Real Murcia, while Emilio Nsue, who is still awaiting his international clearance, can play in attack as well as on the wing. However, having lost Lukas Jutkiewicz, Danny Graham and Marvin Emnes since the end of last season, Boro still look short of options in attack.
A potential season-long loan for Patrick Bamford has been discussed with Chelsea, while Karanka is also refusing to rule out a renewed approach for Graham, who has been frozen out of the first-team picture at Sunderland.
“One of the players that we still need to bring in should be another striker,” he said. “Could it be Danny Graham? I don’t know. I know him, and we are speaking (about him) within us.
“He is a player who could be possible, but at the moment I can’t say if it’s 50 per cent, 90 per cent or 10 per cent. All I can say is that the club is working to bring in the players that will be best for us.”