Championship promotion-hopefuls Middlesbrough are closing in on the signing of West Ham forward Ashley Fletcher, reports The Daily Mail.
The 21-year-old began his youth career at Bolton Wanderers before moving to Premier League giants Manchester United back in 2009, with whom he signed his first professional contract five years later.
However, he never made a senior appearance for the Red Devils but did enjoy a loan spell at Barnsley back in 2016, netting nine times in 26 games for the Tykes before sealing a permanent move to West Ham last summer.
But once again Fletcher has struggled for regular gametime at the London Stadium, playing 20 games for the Hammers of which only three have been starts, and it doesn’t look like he’s going to add to that tally next season either.
The North East outfit were relegated from the Premier League last term with their main issue their distinct lack of a goal-threat, with the club finishing the campaign having scored just 27 goals in their 38 league games.
Yet new boss Monk has sought to address that problem with the likes of Britt Assombalonga and Martin Braithwaite arriving at the club over the summer, and it appears that 21-year-old Fletcher will be another man through the door at the Riverside Stadium as they seek an immediate return to the top-flight.
Monk’s men begin their 2017/18 Championship campaign away at Wolves on August 5.
The Verdict: This seems to be a deal that generates more questions than it does answers.
Where will Fletcher fit in the pecking order? What does it do for Rudy Gestede’s future? How can a striker who has scored just ten senior goals be worth £6.5 million? To name but a few.
But there’s little doubt that the 21-year-old has the potential to go on and become a quality forward, and with West Ham unlikely to offer him the first team football he needs to do that, a move down a division to Middlesbrough makes complete sense on a personal level.
And Boro could indeed reap the rewards from such a deal for many years to come.
Middlesbrough fans… what do you make of the news? Let us know your thoughts and opinions in the comments below!