THE TRANSFER merry-go-round is creaking into action as we go into a watershed few days that could have a massive impact on the immediate future of the club.
Our counterparts at the Stoke Sentinel insist Robert Huth’s arrival at the club to talk personal terms on a ÃÂ£6m move and take a medical is imminent – and that Tuncay may be arriving with him. They have their snappers staking out the training ground.
Stoke hope to push their Huth move through today and make significant progress over the weekend in their talks with Boro’s Turkish talisman, who was “not in a fit state to play ” at Forest because of all the distractions. Bless.
The Potters appear to be Tuncay’s Plan B after a mooted move to Birmingham fell foul of Hong Kong Stock Exchange rules that prevented their new owners making substantial asset acquisition before the red tape is finalised. We understand his agents are also still working on Plans C, D and E.
Meanwhile Blackburn are weighing up a ÃÂ£2m move for Andrew Taylor if, as expected, their first choice left back Stephen Warnock completes a ÃÂ£6m move to Aston Villa.
None of those are surprising. Huth has had a brilliant start to the season and there is no doubt his exit will be a set-back to our early optimism and burgeoning promotion hopes but the bottom line is what it is all about. He is one of the big earners and has had what it would be generous to call a chequered injury record and so the club were always going to cash him in if at all possible.
The player himself has ambitions of playing at the World Cup in South Africa next season and needs to be in the top flight spotlight for the sake of his international career (this post-relegation exit is known as “playing the Juninho card.”)
Tuncay has played the same card and his agent has been in talks with a string of clubs, even though Turkey’s trip to South Africa looks less certain. Again though, a big earner who wants out. The club can’t afford to keep anyone in either of those categories. Whether he will even get a touch of the ball at Stoke we can only speculate although Huth seems a perfect fit with the Tony Pulis route one philosophy.
The fact that he appears to have agreed a deal with Birmingham and a ÃÂ£5m fee has now been established will help Boro. It will sharpen the minds of other prospective suitors lurking in the shadows waiting for a late bargain and may force a few into the open.
Taylor will be less than pleased to have slipped to second choice left back behind Jonathan Grounds and while he has made no noises about leaving other clubs will have noticed. A lot of Boro fans have him pencilled in as a weak link and at times he has edged into scapegoat territory but he remains a key member of England’s highly-rated Under 21 squad, he has played over 100 Premier League games and has European experience. That’s not a bad CV and you can see why a Blackburn would be keen.
On the incoming side, talks with free agent Danny Webber are back on. The energetic if not prolific striker, released by Sheffield United , has so far turned down Crystal Palace and Swansea with both clubs saying his agenst have expressed a preference for Boro and tey are just waiting for funds to be freed up. Watch this space.
And there could be more. Asked about movement after the Forest game on Tuesday boss Gareth Southgate insists that he had a list of targets, that things were shaping up behind the scenes on them and that he had plans in place to cover every eventuality… presumably including the exit of one of his defensive linchpins. Bobo Balde? Don’t laugh.
When Huth was asked pitchside after the game about a move before the window shut the terse Teutonic towerblock deadpanned: “I am happy at Middlesbrough. I love it here. Why are you asking me that question?”
Could be a busy weekend. And not just down in Bristol.
The reality of Huth’s diagonal move to the slightly bigger for now time was confirmed when he was unveiled gloomily holding up a striped shirt in front a small scale replica of the Riverside pondering what the hell he had done.
“It was a no-brainer to come here once I found out they wanted to sign me,” he said unconvincingly. ” I’m grateful for the chance to play in the Premier League again.”
And that is it in a nutshell. He wants to be in the Premiership and it didn’t matter that it was Boro, Bolton, Wigan, Hull or Blackburn that came in. Unless we are doing him a disservice and he actually has always dreamed of playing for the mighty Potters, the team of his boyhood heroes Dennis Smith and Chris Kamara.
Meanwhile Tuncay has yet to sign but the club say they expect it to go through today. What has he done? He will have been waiting and praying overnight and desperately hoping another side, one that actually may pass the ball to him on the ground, came in. Huth is a decent fit with Stoke’s style and you can see some logic. But Tuncay?
Even the Potters fans message boards are enthusuastically unsure about where the hell he will play? He doesn’t suit there physicality, their shape, their agricultural approach and some are worried that if they change to accomodate him – even drop Rory Delap! – then it will detract from what they have been good at and what kept them up last year. He can be their Juninho and take them down in a heart-warming flurry of whole-hearted entertaining confusion.
He has prepared the way for the move by playing to the gallery and bigging up the Stoke fans and the admittedly impressive atmosphere they generate. Prepare for the sickening feeling when you see him on the Match of the Day early show kissing the badge after stabbing home his first goal from a Delap howitzer.
Elsewhere Blackburn have signed nomadic French full-back and signing on fee junkie Pascal Chimbonda for ÃÂ£2m and the BFS is ready to play him at left back which effectively rules out any prospect of them moving for Andrew Taylor.