Nathaniel Mendez-Laing was certainly a surprise addition for Middlesbrough during the January transfer window.
The Teessiders were certainly keen to bring in attacking reinforcements last month and so the 28-year-old is certainly a player who ticks the boxes of what Neil Warnock has been looking for.
However the winger certainly faces an uphill battle to make an impression at the Riverside Stadium.
Here are some of the obstacles that Mendez-Laing faces if he’s to be a success during his time at Middlesbrough.
This is going to be crucial for Nathaniel Mendez-Laing.
The player was released by Cardiff City back in September meaning that it’s been several months since he’s played any form of competitive football.
Building up his general fitness will be one thing, but given how demanding Neil Warnock is of his players it’s likely that it could take a little while for the 28-year-old to get up to speed.
If he’s to make an impression at the club he’ll need to do that sooner rather than later with just a few months remaining of the season.
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Winning a spot in Neil Warnock’s plans
After building up his fitness the challenge will be around establishing himself as a first team regular.
Neil Warnock has typically played a 4-3-3 formation so far this term and so the natural fit for Mendez-Laing will be to slot into that role on the right side of the attacking trio.
As we saw with Patrick Roberts there’s a real emphasis on defensive duties in that role, meaning that the player will need to be tactically astute if he’s to be trusted in the starting XI.
That said, considering the 28-year-old played under Warnock at Cardiff City it’s likely that he’ll know exactly what is expected of him in that role.
Earning a contract for next season
Assuming that Nathaniel Mendez-Laing can overcome the first two challenges the next test will be on securing his future for next term.
The winger penned a deal until the end of the season and that means that he’s essentially on an extended trial period to prove his worth to the club.
We’ve seen with Duncan Watmore that this can bring the best out of players and the hope for Middlesbrough is that the winger will really embrace the opportunity that he’s been given in order to secure a new contract with the team for next season.