Middlesbrough want loanees Harold Moukoudi and Patrick Roberts to long-term deals

Middlesbrough manager Jonathan Woodgate says he would love to re-sign loanees Harold Moukoudi and Patrick Roberts next season if circumstances allow.

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Central defender Moukoudi has played every minute of the seven matches since his move from Saint-Etienne went through. Roberts also joined in January, from Manchester City, and played in four of five games before a hamstring injury kept him out until the coronavirus lockdown.

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Making hard and fast plans for summer recruitment is extremely difficult, with Woodgate not yet knowing how the economic effects of the pandemic will impact on his transfer budget, or if Boro will be in the Championship. But when asked about Moukoudi and Roberts, he confirmed he would like both back at the Riverside next season.

Middlesbrough's Harold Moukoudi (left) battles for possession of the ball with Brentford's Josh Dasilva (right) (PIcture: PA)

“We don’t know how things are going to work out, but I’d love to sign them, I’m a big fan of them both,” he said.

Saint-Etienne are reportedly willing to sell Cameroon international Moukoudi, though how the transfer market will look whenever the window opens is anyone’s guess. The Ligue 1 season has been abandoned, with the French government prohibiting football until at least September. Although the Football League are keen to complete the Championship, it has not been possible to make firm plans yet.

Boro are two points above the relegation zone with nine matches to play.

Roberts joined Manchester City from Fulham five years ago, but his 61 starts since have come on loan, at Celtic, Girona, Norwich City and Boro.

Middlesbrough's Patrick Roberts in action against Fulham (Picture: PA)

With two years left on his contract, the 23-year-old is expected to be sent on loan again next season. As with Moukoudi, there are bound to be rival suitors if finances allow.

Despite the uncertainty, Woodgate has ramped up his recruitment work in lockdown.

“I’ve been doing a lot of recruitment work (during lockdown) and speaking to the recruitment department regularly,” he revealed.

“I’ve been watching players who the recruitment team have watched and we’ve all been forming an opinion.”

Middlesbrough manager Jonathan Woodgate (Picture: PA)

There will also be decisions on out-of-contract players. Former Leeds United midfielder Jonny Howson has arguably been Boro’s player of the season, and before the lockdown Woodgate was optimistic he would commit to stay beyond June. Captain George Friend is another Boro are likely to want to keep, despite only five Championship starts in an injury-hit season.

The Football League is proposing clubs make decisions on their out-of-contract players by June 23, either offering a new contract, an extension until midnight on the season’s final day, or informing them they will be released at the end of June. Those players could not appear for new clubs until next season.

Ryan Shotton, Daniel Ayala, Rudy Gestede, Marvin Johnson and Adam Clayton are also out of contract on June 30, while Lukas Nmecha and Ravel Morrison are on loan. Morrison’s Sheffield United deal expires this summer.

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