Middlesbrough manager Jonathan Woodgate says he is optimistic about January signing Harold Moukoudi’s ability to adapt to the Championship this season.
Moukoudi joined ‘Boro from French top-flight St Etienne on loan until the end of the season on the final day of the January transfer window, and could make his debut for the club when they travel to Griffin Park to face high flying Brentford on Saturday afternoon.
The 22-year-old featured just once for his parent club in the last two months prior to his move to England, but Woodgate appears confident that the 6ft 2in centre back’s physical nature will allow him to settle in nicely in the second-tier of English football.
Speaking to the Northern Echo about what he expects from Moukoudi during his time at the Riverside Stadium, Woodgate said: “We did a lot of work on him. He’s a really strong individual.
“In fact, he’s massive, he’s a real big boy, the same size as Rudy (Gestede) and more thickset than Rudy too, so he’s a big lad. He can play, he’s quick, and he’s good in the air, so let’s see.”
Indeed, it seems the Frenchman has been on ‘Boro’s radar for some time now, as Woodgate went onto claim: “We knew about him. There’s always been positive reports on him.
“He was a free transfer last season from La Havre, he went to St Etienne, his father didn’t want him to go out of France at that point so we knew it would be difficult to get him but when he came available on loan it was important that we got him.”
Following their 1-1 draw with Blackburn last week, Middlesbrough go into that clash with Brentford 18th in the Championship table, seven points clear of the relegation zone.
This does sound encouraging for Middlesbrough.
There is always going to be a concern about a players capability when they come into a new league for the first time, and especially the Championship, when you consider its competitiveness.
However, when you look at the size of Moukoudi, there is no doubt he should be capable of handling himself against even the most physical of Championship strikers, which ought to be just what ‘Boro need as they look to avoid being dragged back into a relegation scrap.
Indeed, the fact that ‘Boro have been keen on Moukoudi for some time also appears to be a positive indicator here, since it suggests they are well aware of what they will be getting with the 22-year-old, and shows their ability behind the scenes to make sure they are able to get deals done for their long-term targets.