FOR Middlesbrough manager Tony Pulis, there was precious little appetite to savour Tuesday evening’s comprehensive 3-0 home victory over Sheffield United, with his mind swiftly turning to key matters elsewhere.
Addressing perceived deficiencies in Boro’s squad was at the forefront of his mind straight after the game, with the clock ticking ahead of today’s 5pm deadline for permanent additions – and the Teessiders bracing themselves for confirmation of star winger Adama Traore’s £18m departure to Wolves.
That duly arrived on Wednesday morning when the Midlanders completed the signing of Traore, Boro’s third big-money transfer departure in the space of a week following the sales of captain Ben Gibson and striker Patrick Bamford, with the triple deals set to eventually net the Teessiders well over £40million.
Boro have mitigated for the loss of Bamford with the addition of Teessider and former season-ticket holder Jordan Hugill, with the West Ham targetman – who used to attend the same Nunthorpe school as Gibson – securing a dream move to his hometown club on a season-long loan.
The Hammers will reportedly receive a loan fee of around £2m for Hugill, who featured just three times following his £9.5million switch from Preston in January.
On his move to Boro, Hugill, 26, who had been linked with several other Championship clubs, including Leeds and Aston Villa at various stages this summer, said: “It has been a long time coming and I am excited to get started.
“It is big move coming to my hometown club, and hopefully I will do myself justice.
“It is something I have grown up wanting to do is play for Middlesbrough. I’d break my back to be here, now I want to show people what I can do.”
With the future of another forward in Martin Braithwaite being uncertain, with the Danish international rumoured to be keen on a return to the continent, Pulis is making contingencies to potentially bring in another striker.
Meanwhile, the Boro chief has also earmarked a move for Everton winger Yannick Bolaise as Traore’s ‘like-for-like’ replacement.
Pulis was instrumental in the rise to prominence of Bolaise during their time working together at Crystal Palace and the 29-year-old has now been offered the chance to get his career back on track with a familiar face after a long-term knee injury.
Pulis is also keen on re-signing Bolaise’s Blues midfielder Mo Besic following his successful temporary spell last term, with Boro having several another active targets, including Ipswich Town left-back Jonas Knudsen and QPR midfielder Luke Freeman.
While Pulis is bracing himself for a busy run-up to today’s deadline, his Blades counterpart Chris Wilder is bracing himself for a quiet day, unless things dramatically change – with a plunge in the loan market which stays open until August 31 being more realistic.
Wilder had tabled an offer for Martyn Waghorn, but the terms of the transfer – both regarding the structure of the fee and the his wage demands – scuppered any realistic hope of landing the striker, who has joined Derby.
Hugill had been another high-profile forward with Championship pedigree who Wilder was keen on, but the lure of a return ‘home’ to Boro, allied to the financial resources of the Teessiders was always likely to ensure that the Blades would not be able to seriously compete.
Wilder, whose side are aiming to avoid a third successive league defeat on Saturday, said: “We are not in a position to dictate anything in the transfer market.
“We are waiting. We could get a kid from League Two and take a punt, but I want players who have played in this league and so we are always waiting.
“That is the situation and I have come to accept that.
“We will wait and see what drops and if something does, and players become available, then we will be in a position to get them into the club.”
Brighton have signed Molde defender Leo Skiri Ostigard for an undisclosed fee.