Middlesbrough manager Neil Warnock has revealed that Luton Town midfielder Pelly Ruddock Mpanzu was at the club’s training complex over the summer for transfer talks – but he ultimately turned Boro down.
The Democratic Republic of Congo international’s contract at the Hatters expired in the summer and it seemed plausible that following a seven-year permanent stint at the club, Ruddock Mpanzu would seek opportunities elsewhere despite being a regular under Nathan Jones.
Football Insider claimed that Luton’s Championship rivals Middlesbrough and Blackburn Rovers were both weighing up moves to sign the energetic midfielder on a free transfer, and two weeks passed following the expiration of his deal and he was still a free agent.
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To the delight of Luton fans though, the 28-year-old opted to extend his time in Bedfordshire and has played 12 times in the Championship so far this season, scoring once.
Ahead of Boro’s trip to Kenilworth Road tonight, Warnock discussed the midfielder and confirmed that the speculation linking him to the Riverside were true.
“He was one that we liked,” Warnock told the Teesside Gazette.
“We talked to him at the training ground but could never quite get it over the line really.
“Luton were always in the background trying to get him to re-sign. In the end, you have got to look after yourself really.
“The player couldn’t wait any longer and that was it.”
Boro were desperate for midfield reinforcements over the summer and it now appears that Ruddock Mpanzu really was one of their top targets.
In the end though he turned a bigger club in Middlesbrough down to remain at Luton and you’ve got to admire that kind of loyalty – even though he did want to explore all his options first.
Warnock – or the club’s recruitment team if you will – ended up signing other players for the engine room including James Lea Siliki and Martin Payero and both of those men are completely different types of player to Ruddock Mpanzu.
The club will be hoping that their failed pursuit of the 28-year-old doesn’t come back to haunt them this evening as it would be rotten luck if he managed to score a winning goal against Boro after turning them down.