Middlesbrough are interested in recruiting Watford striker Andre Gray according to The Athletic, with the Hertfordshire side’s promotion in May putting his future at the club in doubt.
30-year-old Gray made 30 appearances for the Hornets last season under Vladimir Ivic and Xisco, scoring five goals and picking up a single assist in the Championship as he helped Watford to win an automatic promotion spot last season.
The forward joined his current club in 2017 for a club-record £18.5m fee – and although he appeared regularly for them in their three Premier League seasons before dropping down last season – he’s failed to make an impact in the last couple of seasons after initially starting well at Vicarage Road in the top flight.
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Gray is now entering the final year of his contract – and to avoid losing him for free next summer after paying nearly £20m for the 30-year-old – they may decide to sever their ties with the striker permanently and free up some extra cash for Xisco to spend in the transfer market.
Although they are unlikely to receive a huge amount of money for their forward after he scored just five goals last term, the newly-promoted Premier League side may use the limited revenue generated from this potential sale to spend an extra couple of million pushing through a deal for a marquee signing.
Gray has shown his Championship goalscoring pedigree at Brentford and Burnley – and would be a shrewd addition for Neil Warnock to make depending on his price tag.
With Watford now in the Premier League and likely to make more money from TV and sponsorship deals, they could be more willing to sell the 30-year-old for a cut-price fee than they otherwise would be if they were still in the same division as Middlesbrough.
A loan could be another option but if the Hornets have already decided his time at Vicarage Road is up, there’s no chance he’ll go out on loan, even if it’s just for six months.
It would be a disaster for the Premier League side if Warnock was able to get the best out of the forward on a short-term loan spell and then a team swoops in at the start of January and signs him on a pre-contract agreement.
Ashley Fletcher left Boro for the top-tier club earlier this summer – will Gray now head in the opposite direction?