Middlesbrough manager Neil Warnock has claimed that Duncan Watmore “wants to stay” at the Riverside despite interest from the likes of West Bromwich Albion and Burnley but indicated that “the talking’s finished”.
The 26-year-old has been fantastic after signing as a free agent in November, scoring five times and adding an assist in his eight Championship appearances so far, and has turned heads of a number of other English clubs.
Watmore’s current Boro deal is set to expire in January and, according to the Daily Mail, West Brom and Burnley are keen on signing the winger on a free transfer this month.
The Teesside club have offered the player an extension but agree terms, though it seems Warnock is confident he will despite issues in negotiations.
Speaking to the Northern Echo, he said: “There’s a contract on the table at the moment, but it’s not acceptable to his representatives.
“That’s why there’s a negotiation, but that’s why I don’t really worry.
“In Duncan’s case, I don’t really think money is that important. I think with the last couple of years he’s had in football, he should be wanting to stay for the right reasons. He’s a sensible lad, so I don’t think he’ll let people talking to him put him off altogether.
“He’s told me that he wants to stay. He’s loving it here, and that’s something that’s been brought up in the last few weeks.
“I think the parties have been talking more, but as far as I’m concerned, I think the talking’s finished now. He’ll either sign or he won’t. The Birmingham game is due to be his last game at the moment – that’s what I’m told – and what will be, will be.”
A product of the Sunderland academy, Watmore made his debut back in 2013/14 and featured in all of England’s top three tiers for the Black Cats before his exit in the summer – though he was hampered with injuries throughout.
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It’s remarkable how quickly Watmore’s stock has risen, from being clubless in November to a target of Premier League clubs in January.
The 26-year-old has been really unlucky with injuries in his career so it is fantastic to see him succeeding now he is back fit but it seems as though Boro might be left kicking themselves.
Giving him a short-term deal was an understandable precaution in November but they may now lose him for nothing with top-tier clubs circling.
Warnock’s claims are interesting. He seems optimistic that the player will stay but he’s indicated that there have been issues in negotiations.
If the Premier League interest turns into offers, it’s hard to see Watmore resisting a return to the top flight.