"Unfortunately for the Boro faithful, some of the names that have been linked by the media as potential targets are hardly inspiring, with Daniel Cousin and Georgios Samaras supposedly being two of those in the frame"
The summer departures of Mark Viduka and Aiyegbeni Yakubu were always likely to prove difficult for Middlesbrough boss Gareth Southgate to replace and a quick glance at the current Premiership league table and the Boro “goals for” column strongly suggests that it is a task that the manager has yet to complete.
Although Southgate was active in the summer transfer window in recruiting new forwards, Mido, Jeremie Aliadiere and Tuncay Sanli never looked likely to come close to replicating the exploits of their predecessors and, to date at least, the Boro attack has lived down to those expectations.
That Southgate will re-enter the transfer market in the New Year is surely a given, particularly with Mido set to be on African Cup of Nations duty with Egypt (injury and individual boycott notwithstanding) and Lee Dong-Gook’s days at the Riverside looking to be coming to an end. It could be that more than one signing will be required to bolster Southgate’s attacking options.
So, who might provide the answer to Middlesbrough’s needs? Unfortunately for the Boro faithful, some of the names that have been linked by the media as potential targets are hardly inspiring, with Daniel Cousin and Georgios Samaras supposedly being two of those in the frame.
Back in the summer a move was mooted for Heerenveen striker Afonso Alves. The Brazilian international certainly seems destined to leave the Eredivisie sooner rather than later, but his transfer value and his list of suitors will have increased significantly following his record seven-goal haul against Heracles earlier this season. The reality is that he is now probably out of Boro’s reach, particularly with big-spending Manchester City apparently keen on clinching a deal.
Staying on the Brazilian theme, Vagner Love must be contemplating a move from CSKA Moscow after more than three years in Russia. Averaging a goal every other game for CSKA, a bigger challenge surely beckons for the 23-year-old Brazilian international. Again, a hefty transfer fee and a number of other admirers would stand in Boro’s way but, on the plus side, the club does have a history of attracting the boys from Brazil and Steve Gibson must realise that he will probably need to delve deep into his pockets again to bring in a proven goalscorer if his beloved Boro are to avoid the potential threat of relegation.
Another Brazilian who could offer a short-term solution is Adriano. The Inter Milan striker is now fifth choice striker at the San Siro and could well be made available for a loan deal in January. Indeed, so far has his stock fallen that he was not even named in Roberto Mancini’s 25-man squad for the Champions League group stage. He would certainly be a risky addition, even were he interested in moving to the Riverside, given his penchant for partying, his questionable work ethic and his hefty salary. Then again, he is unquestionably a major talent when on his game and he would almost certainly add a few thousand to the gate and boost revenue from shirt sales and the like.
A more realistic option might be Toulouse striker Johan Elmander, with the Swedish international having scored key goals in helping his club to secure a top three finish in the French league last term and a shot at the Champions League this season (brought to an abrupt end when they were trounced by Liverpool in the 3rd qualifying round). Elmander also has a clause in his contract allowing him to leave Toulouse for £7.5 million.
Closer to home, Watford’s Marlon King is again banging in the goals in the Championship, having missed the vast bulk of last season through injury. Unproven at the highest level, he would represent something of a gamble for a club that really needs a striker who can more or less guarantee goals from the outset.
Sheffield United striker James Beattie has rediscovered his form after a miserable few years at Everton, although of course he is now plying his trade in the Championship. With former Boro boss Bryan Robson now in charge at Bramall Lane, there has to be a possibility that a deal could be thrashed out, particularly if a player or two is allowed to go the other way.
Whether Boro go for any of the above or bring in someone else, it is imperative that something is done in January to make them a more potent attacking force. Failure to do so could end up costing them an awful lot more than the initial outlay on a top quality striker.