Sport Soccer

Monday 23 October 2017

Rudy Gestede set for Middlesbrough move as Aitor Karanka eyes reinforcements

Rudy Gestede is close to leaving Aston Villa
Rudy Gestede is close to leaving Aston Villa

Middlesbrough boss Aitor Karanka is determined to waste no time improving his squad in the January transfer window with Rudy Gestede set to be confirmed as the first new arrival on Teesside this week.

Aston Villa are understood to have accepted a bid for the £6million-rated front man who arrived in the north-east to finalise the deal in the wake of Boro's frustrating goalless draw against Leicester on Monday.

Meanwhile Boro keeper Tomas Mejias is in Spain with a view to completing a loan move to Rayo Vallecano after finding himself fourth in line at the Riverside Stadium this season behind Victor Valdes, Brad Guzan and Dimi Konstantopoulos.

Karanka refused to give anything away on his transfer targets but did admit: "I want to finish the transfer market on the 31st of January with a better squad than I have now so that is the target the club is working towards."

Boro's performance against the Foxes underlined their need for new blood up front with major question marks over out-of-favour Jordan Rhodes and David Nugent who have found themselves increasingly marginalised.

Karanka could also have new injury problems to contend with in the build-up to his side's FA Cup clash with Sheffield Wednesday on Sunday with Valdes missing after his controversial clash with Zlatan Ibrahimovic on Saturday, and Antonio Barragan limping off with a suspected hamstring strain.

Karanka said Valdes' absence underlined the honesty of the keeper, who had been accused of exaggerating his injury following the collision with Ibrahimovic, whose resulting goal was ruled out by referee Lee Mason.

He added: "The injury was from the Ibrahimovic action. Someone said he (Valdes) was simulating in the second half and today he could prove again that he was injured. He is a professional, an experienced player and he could play the second half but not today. I hope he will be ready for the next game."

Leicester boss Claudio Ranieri predicted better times ahead for his team after a battling performance highlighted by the return from injury of Nampalys Mendy in midfield.

Ranieri's side has badly lacked the impact of N'Golo Kante this season but the return of Mendy for the first time since suffering an injury against Arsenal in August allowed him to switch to a more creative set-up with Mendy at the centre.

Ranieri said: "Mendy had an outstanding performance and I'm happy. He suffered a lot with his ankle injury but now he is ready and I am happy that I have one player more.

"This season we have conceded too many goals and we must improve this. For this reason we came back solid and strong with a good personality. I am very, very pleased with the great spirit that we showed."

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