Deadline Day: Live… Flight Of The Condor

WELL, that was a long night on radar watch and ringing up various national air traffic control centres demanding updates of all Transatlantic flights leaving Latin America. Bleary-eyed but lets do this….

Uruguayan Boro target Carlos De Pena is mid-air and Teesside-bound through one of a dozen possible routes, with or without permission of his club Nacional (but with a nod from the owners of the other half of his economic rights ) after making a break for freedom from the airport and being involved in a car crash that may have just been an unfortunate accident or – depending on which garbled Babelfish translation you believe – may have been “staged” …  which sounds like a great cover so he could nip into the nearby British Hospital for a sneaky swift medical.  It’s like a decent spy/conspiracy  thriller.

He had been due to board a flight from Montevideo for a convoluted route to Teesside and was stuck kicking his heels in departures while the deal thrashed out at Rockliffe over the weekend by a visiting delegation – our wild-eyed Uruguayan keeper Leo Perchovic acting as chest-beating interpreter-  was fine-tuned.

But then the player was left frustrated as Nacional chiefs back home said Boro’s offer failed to meet their valuation and poor Carlos he was told to cancel and return to base. After that things get a bit confusing amid a white noise of competing local sports scribes who seem to have live tweeted in comedy gold mistranslations his every move.

What we do know is he is now involved in a race against time to get to Rockliffe to sign the papers and complete a deal while Boro remotely push through an inter-continental fait accompli on a deal valued at about $3m before he lands. Meanwhile anxious Boro fans will monitor the skies and keep their eyes peeled at Heathrow arrivals for a grumpy red faced old Scotsman with a Manchester United blazer and a Diego Forlan mask.

“Come in Condor…. come in Condor… this is Teesside control calling…. ”


Hot property De Pena is half owned by Nacional who don’t want to sell their star man and half owned by a powerful group who do. This group is run by Paco Casal, a former Atletico Madrid player and the biggest football agent in Uruguay who also runs his own sports  cable network. Generally he gets his way in Uruguayan football. That’s in Boro’s favour but now they need a good tailwind and to avoid any wildcat action by French air traffic control and any hold-ups at the carousel . God speed.

Welcome to the deadline day blog B-movie madness.  It makes the possible looming brinkmanship over wantaway winger Albert Adomah look positively dull….

***There’s even more bells and whistle, photos, jokes and recipes and all kind of yellow-tied hyperbole over on the Gazette’s dedicated D-Day live blog. Read it here.


Meanwhile in other news,  perma-furious ginger football bouncer Sean Dyche is simmering as well-wadded Boro and Derby run around in mad abandon throwing money in the air like a drunken sailor on shore leave while poor bedraggled breadline Burnley* smash the kids piggy-bank, pathetically counting the pennies amid the debris to see if they can afford a measly Bobby Zamora or so.

dyche lego








Lego the purse strings:   Dug-out destitute Sean Dyche  pleads with Burnley bosses

(*Burnley earned £65m in parachute payments for their recent loan move to the Premier League and last week spend NINE MILLION POUNDS  on Andre Grey and also opted to pick up the wages of football’s self-appointed philosopher-king Joey Barton.)

Elsewhere,  that sound you can hear is axes grinding as Jacob Butterfield closes in on a £3.5m up to £5m move to Derby – which is of course SEVEN times what Boro got when he moved to Huddersfield.  You can sense the seething now about how short-sighted Boro are and how he “could do a job.”

But Butterfield – nice lad, tidy footballer, good distribution  – didn’t quite fit in Aitor Karanka’s rigid 4231 system. He wasn’t quite right for one of the two holding roles and wasn’t quite fast enough and didn’t have the natural attacking instincts to play as one of the front three. Right player, wrong time. It happens.

And he was one of the chips that helped Boro get Adam Clayton so it’s not all bad news.

Yes, you look at the price-tag and that rankles a bit (and who knows, we may have a sell-on clause as one of the add-ons in the deal) but injury ravaged Derby are desperate, its deadline day and the market, even in the cash-strapped Championship, has gone crazy. Sometimes you just have to take it on the chin. And it does annoy Dyche. Almost as much as that perfectly good goal disallowed against Boro in the FA Cup semi-final in 1997 did when he was at Chesterfield.

Elsewhere, purveyors of the popular “typical Boro, they can they never do a bloody transfer right” meme will be delighted to know that that the two biggest clubs in the world have completely faxed up – or “Whelan-ed” as we call it on the sports desk – a £29m deal they have been working on for two months.


We need to talk about Albert…

Our former fans’ favourite is currently sat on the Muzzy Carayol Memorial Naughty Step with Aitor occasional looking daggers at him and doesn’t look like turning off the death rays any time soon.

We know that Aitor demands absolute commitment to the cause and that players dissolve their individual needs into the collective. The wild-eyed revolutionary socialist in me likes that.  We know he is ruthless with no time for Kie Kamara Tigger onesies or any affectations. He demands professionalism. Excellence. A constant striving for incremental improvement. I like that too. Anyone who falls by the wayside or doesn’t accept “the methodology and philosophy” is weeded out . We know that snarling evangelist Grant Leadbitter is the personification of his approach. And I love that. “That’s football”.

Albert has transgressed from those standards. He bit back. He had a heated exchange. He let his standards slip. He is a lovely bloke who smiles a lot but right now he is making Aitor frown and for this reason we are not happy. I’ve covered some of this ground in today’s Big Picture column. Which is great and includes name checks for Aitor’s Nana and Les Dawson.

Exactly what happened or was said will probably never get out. And that’s probably for the best. It should all stay in the dressing room. Suffice to say that right now the various parties are estranged and that leaves Boro with a serious headache: a first team fixture and expensive asset is in the gulag for the foreseeable.


               Albert Adomah: His situation may come into sharper focus later today

Albert, who signed a new deal just last year and only a week ago was gushing about Aitor and the club, has handed in a transfer request – current laid unopened in Steve Gibson’s in-tray – which means he is ready to sacrifice his loyalty bonuses and a slice of the transfer fee players are entitled too if their employer flogs them without notice.

Ideally Boro would sell him today for a healthy profit and there would be a clean break and possibly cash for a replacement,  time allowing.  Everyone’s a winner.

But so far there have been no offers for Albert. There were a few informal inquiries last week but no club as yet has followed that up with an offer. Talk of old club Bristol City – whose fans he danced with after they beat Boro… which went down well – being keen hasn’t firmed up (and they just hoof it long anyway) while QPR’s mooted move hasn’t materialised.

If he doesn’t go he can look forward to training alone for a spell. Possibly with a full kit-bag. Being beasted by an evil RSM brought in on loan from the Green Howards.  With live rounds. Is Aitor allowed to do that? Can someone check with the PFA?


On a wing and a prayer…


Carlos De Pena is still a race against time with added turbulence …. the flight from Sao Paulo is 800 miles away above the Atlantic and is due into Heathrow at about three o’clock and by the time they get through immigration (precious Italian passport, EU citizens fast-track) and pick up the Louis Vuitton’s they should be in good time   – but who knows what twists and turns have taken place between the competing interests with a slice of the players registration or an emotional stake while it has been airborne? Or who is on it?

We understand that De Pena stopped off in Sao Paulo for a medical during the wait for the connecting flight.  A representative of Nacional’s top brass is on the plane though and was scheduled to meet with Boro officials at Heathrow where the registration paperwork could be done quickly and whisked off the the FA. The bits and pieces can be done later and the physical presence of the player isn’t crucial. So long as he’s signed his bit.

However, naturally, things are far from smooth with the move – in fact is is all a bit of a chew on – with the internal conflict between the various factions within Nacional back in Uruguay still not completely resolved and with fans also kicking off about losing a star player and applying political pressure on the board to pull the plug. And by pressure I don’t mean a bit of booing at half-time. Reigning champions Nacional have 60,000 members who are not shy of letting their opinions be known.


  Smoke and mirrors: Nacional ultras – like to be seen AND heard 

Nacional’s president Eduardo Ache doesn’t want him to leave but seems resigned to the transfer going through. He did after all sanction it, even if he is taking some heat now.

“I spoke to De Pena in the afternoon and he said he was leaving because it was a life opportunity, that we should let him go,” Ache told Uruguayan sports website Ovacion Digital.  “I told him that in this situation he can’t go, it was not about the money.

“The damage has already been done. It would be difficult to get the player back.”

So that sounds good.  But who knows. The club twice tried to cancel the flight yesterday as part of the brinkmanship but De Pena – who sounds desperate to come – went ahead and jumped aboard anyway, possibly with a bandaged head after his prang (his mother is still in hospital recovering from whiplash), and it looked like a fait accompli. Far from it. The talks are on-going. The board are fire-fighting against a fans’ backlash and there is jockeying for position in the boardroom. Tense, dramatic last gasp stuff. Again..

The deal is literally up in the air. They always do this to us don’t they?

Meanwhile a string of ITK Boro targets are signing fast… for other clubs: Victor Moses has joined West Ham, Michael Antonio is “95% done” for the Hammers and Peter Odemwingie… well who knows where his car is heading?

3.30pm UPDATE

Well the Flight of the Condor has touched down. While we wait for the next exciting development here’s a little toy for you to play with.  It is a Jim White Android Scooptbot Beat The Bongs Catchphrase generator. Go on, try it. Have a mess about. I’ve been sampling , looping and mixing it Paul Hardcastle style. The office is delighted.





Anything can happen in the next half hour…

Well the Flight of the Condor has landed and now we face an an anxious wait to see whether the deal for De Pena can be pushed through. The paperwork itself should be straight-forward and if the meeting in Heathrow’s plush Diego Forlan suite goes well it can be quickly lodged with the FA – so long as everyone is still willing.

While the Nacional big-wig has been airborne with the signed forms ready to complete, back home in Montevideo the rest of the board – chairman: Ed Ache – have been fire-fighting after a massive backlash from rowdy fans unhappy at selling their star man and different factions within the club. The current status of the on-off-on-off-on deal is unknown. Watch this space…

After cancelled flights, brinkmanship, car crashes, internal squabbling, leaks, spinning and spats and several revivals of a deadline deal that looked dead Steve Gibson and Neil Bausor will be glad to get this one settled. Then they can turn their attention to the Middle-east peace process.

Meanwhile Albert is kicking his heels… 

Whatever happens between now and the bong the De Pena B-Movie airport drama has made it one of the most exciting and absorbing deadline days for at least a year. But let’s not forget it is not just about one day. The entire window has been good. To my mind anyway. I think Boro have steadily put some potent pieces in place.  

On the night after the play-off defeat at Wembley I was lucky enough to blag my way into the official club reception in a plush London hotel. Obviously the gig wasn’t quite as intended and there was a downbeat mood – but I spoke to the chairman who, while gutted, was adamant that he and Aitor were fiercely determined to be better, sharper, stronger and more potent this time out . They had already started planning and they would resolve the structural weaknesses at the sharp end that the senior staff believed had cost them. They wanted add pace, power, nous and creativity. 


         Window not a complete pain: Boro have made some good signings up front

In the summer the chairman has funded  a complete rebuild of the front end of the team with some success. They have brought in top flight and international experience in Stewie and Stuani, a proven goalscorer in this division in Nugent and a creative live-wire in blacked booted maverick Fabbrini.  The balance has been shifted towards getting the ball forward quicker, getting more width.

The early evidence is that, whil eit hasn’t completely gelled,  Boro are creating more chances, there are more crosses and more goals. And all without sacrificing the defensive solidity and engine room energy that made them so hard to beat.

Whatever happens before the deadline Boro feel better balanced and better equipped to compete. It has been a decent window…  plus, transfer junkies, don’t forget… the loan window opens in eight days.

INS: Tomas Kalas (Chelsea) season loan; Alex Baptiste (Bolton) free; Stewart Downing (West Ham) £5.5m (up to a possible £7m on promotion – let’s hope we pay it); Cristhian Stuani (Espanyol) £3.6m; Diego Fabbrini (Watford) season loan; David Nugent (Leicester) Up to £4m; Jack Stephens (Southampton) season loan; Michael Agazzi (AC Milan) season loan; Fernando Amorebieta (Fulham) season loan.

OUTS: Patrick Bamford (Chelsea) loan expired; Jelle Vossen (Genk) loan expired; Ryan Fredericks (Spurs) loan expired; Kenneth Omeruo (Chelsea) loan expired; Dean Whitehead (Huddersfield) contract expired; Emmanuel Ledesma (Rotherham) contract expire); Luke Williams (Scunthorpe) nominal fee; Lee Tomlin (Bournemouth) £3.5m; Connor Ripley (Motherwell) season loan; Mustapha Carayol (Huddersfield) season loan; James Husband (Fulham), 1 month loan.

What do you think of that then?


Deal done. And normal font resumed. Not sure what happened there. I’ll get a geek to hit the server with a hammer. Where were we? Ah yes, the De Pena deal is done. Boro just squeezed through as the window slammed shut. More later. First must go and write lots for the paper and the website.


Go on then… you may as well  have  this to wrap it up… back page lead.


BORO squeezed the signing of Uruguay winger Carlos De Pena through the window on a dramatic deadline day.

The club concluded a last gasp deal worth $4 – around £2.6m – with Uruguay champions Nacional less than a hour before the transfer window slammed shut after a tense Transatlantic race against time.

That completed an eventful deal that featured several cancelled flights, a car crash and a bitter boardroom tug of war.

And as the player’s registration was owned by two parties – common in Latin America – there was also a row between them over whether to accept the Boro bid for one of Uruguay’s hottest prospects.

The on-off move was finally completed at Heathrow Airport after Nacional’s chief negotiator made a 7,000 mile 14 hour flight through the night.

But the player was not on the plane. He was forced to stop off in the Brazilian city of Sao Paulo where he took a medical hastily arranged after a phone call to Boro icon Juninho.

He had signed all his paperwork though and so the registration formalities could be concluded in his absence.

De Pena, 23, will follow on in a few days. He has an Italian passport so will not need a work permit but Boro must now apply for international clearance, which is a formality.

Aitor Karanka was delighted and relived to get his man.

“Carlos will be a very good signing for us,” he said.

“One of the biggest things is how much he wanted to join us. He told me from the first minute that he couldn’t wait to start working with us.

“He is a winner, he is experienced – he’s played in the Copa Libertadores – and I am really pleased because he will be a good signing for us.”

But the deal for De Pena, a left sided flanker, 23, has scored 10 goals in 53 games, almost collapsed several times.

His economic rights are owned jointly by the club and by the Paco Casal Group.

Casal is an ex-Atletico Madrid player turned agent who is one of the most influential figures in the Uruguayan game. He visited Rockliffe over the weekend to thrash out a deal with Boro chiefs and it appeared the move would go smoothly.

The players was at the airport yesterday ready to fly in to sign – but Nacional directors intervened to block the move as they did not believe the fee was high enough for their key player.  Twice they ordered De Pena not to get on flights and then when ordered home he was involved in a car crash and he and his mother needed treatment.

When in hospital the situation changed again and he was told to return to the airport but time was running out – and it seemed with just a two hour window after landing at Heathrow there would be no time for a full medical.

So he and a senior Nacional official jetted to Sao Paulo where he used the medical facilities normally used Juninho’s club Ituano for his tests while the negotiator flew on.

Even while the flight was airborne the deal faced turbulence as news of the controversial move broke in Uruguay.  It lead to a backlash aamong the club’s 60,000 members and a political faction fight in the Nacional boardroom.

But the player insisted he wanted to go and the club reluctantly accepted it.

“It wasn’t tidy but it was the least  bad decision,” said director Paul Duran.

Right, I’m going home now….


284 thoughts on “Deadline Day: Live… Flight Of The Condor

  1. As the window slams shut is #Albertgate now closed? Back in training with the full squad – no longer cutting a Conan groove in the outer pitches perimeter.

    Was a mumbled apology heard?

    Have his lines been written?

    Aside from the manager, who cares?!

    Back in the fold? – Get him on the pitch with a point to prove!

  2. All done and dusted. Yorkshire are champions.
    Now let’s see Boro give us another reason to celebrate.
    I, too, will be happy if Albert has returned to the fold and is back on the pitch with a point to prove. UTB

  3. Being from the Mackem-favouring northern side of the river (kids, that’s Durham in old money – ask yer dads) I’ve never been able to dredge up an affinity for Yorkshire. By the time we became Teesside (’68 was it?) and we Stocktonians were belatedly qualified to play for the county, it was too late to capture my interest.

    Actually I’ve never been that interested in cricket. However I went to watch the recent Ashes test at Edgbaston. All day sat in the sun supping pint after pint – very civilised. The exciting cricket was a bonus.

  4. Sorry Braveheart. We Yorkshire Cricket lovers tend only to introduce the subject when all is quiet on the Boro front, as is currently the case. We are a throwback to the days when the close season was a long period of time which was filled with the main alternative to football. A large percentage of Boro supporters relished the opportunity to see the most successful team in County Cricket in their backyard, i.e. Acklam Park.

    I’ll be only too glad to read and comment about Boro when the action resumes. UTB

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