Middlesbrough boss Neil Warnock has confirmed the departures of Britt Assombalonga and Ashley Fletcher, while also hinting they may already have agreed deals with new clubs.
Reports emerged yesterday that the forward duo, who have scored a combined nine goals for Boro this term, were set to play no further part for the club this season as they were set to leave when their contracts expired in the summer.
Speaking to the Northern Echo after his side’s 2-1 win against Rotherham United yesterday, Warnock confirmed that not only would Assombalonga and Fletcher play no further part this season but they’d been let go completely – as well as hinting that they may already have sorted out their next steps.
He said: “We’ve told them that they won’t be involved again now.
“They won’t play and they won’t train with us. I just felt it was the right time. It’s difficult for players as well – it’s not their fault altogether.
“I thought it was time after I brought on Britt on at the weekend. When you’re looking at next season and you know you’re not going to be here, both of them have probably got another club now, so I’m told. I didn’t think there was any point carrying on. We’ve agreed to let them both go – it’s only two more weeks.”
It is understood that Fletcher rejected the new terms offered to him by the North East club, while Assombalonga was not offered another contract by Boro.
The latter joined from Nottingham Forest in 2017 for an eight-figure fee and has scored 47 times in 161 appearances for the Teessiders.
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This move makes sense from a Boro perspective because Warnock’s side don’t have anything to play for in the Championship, so may as well use the last few games of the season to prepare for next term.
It’s frustrating to see £20 million worth of strikers leave the club for nothing but that’s a reflection of the failure to sort out their contracts or sell them earlier on, not this decision.
Warnock’s comments about future moves are interesting as he seems to be hinting that they may well already have agreed terms elsewhere.
Time will tell if he’s right on that one.