The January transfer window is just two weeks away and for Middlesbrough it could be a busy month.
Neil Warnock has made it clear that he’d like to strengthen his side with two or three new signings when the market reopens – something which is bound to stand the club in good stead as they look to continue their quiet pursuit of a top six finish.
But while incomings are the priority, there will also be an eye on outgoings.
Loan departures will be a key aspect of the business done with several young players in line for a potential short-term exit as they seek first team football, but could there be a high-profile exit from the first team squad on the cards.
Britt Assombalonga is a player with an uncertain future.
Middlesbrough’s club-record signing, the striker has just six months remaining on his contract at the Riverside Stadium.
Given the efforts that the club have gone through to trim their wage bill in recent years it seems that a contract extension for their highest-earning player could be a tricky deal to engineer.
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Never say never, but it seems unlikely.
That means that Middlesbrough could face a big decision in the coming weeks.
January is the club’s last opportunity to cash in on a player who arrived at the club for a huge fee of £15million in 2017.
Being blunt, there’s no chance that the Teessiders will attract an offer of anywhere near that sum next month, but it could still be tempting to cut their losses and receive a cut-price fee.
Assombalonga is the club captain and so any departure would leave a significant hole in the first team squad as they look for a replacement, which means that the cash being received is not worth the cost of losing such a key presence midway through a season.
But with funds so limited at the Riverside Stadium there’s no doubt that Steve Gibson would have to consider any offers that did land on his desk for the number nine.