Middlesbrough boss Aitor Karanka still keen on Borussia Dortmund defender Subotic

Middlesbrough head coach Aitor Karanka. Picture by Tom Collins.
Middlesbrough head coach Aitor Karanka. Picture by Tom Collins.

Middlesbrough could be set for a change of defensive personnel, following the capture of striker Rudy Gestede from Aston Villa.

It is rumoured in Turkey that Daniel Ayala is a target for Galatasaray, with the Turkish team planning a bid of £8.5m for the Spanish centre-half who, through an untimely injury earlier this season, has found himself out of favour at the Riverside.

Regardless if Ayala departs Teesside or not, reports in Germany continue to suggest that Boro’s attempt to lure Neven Subotic from Borussia Dortmund is back on.

Karanka has been a long-time admirer of the Serbian central defender and there was an agreed €10m deal for the defender accepted in the summer, but the transfer was cancelled when a medical revealed a series of complications.

Nevertheless, German newspaper Bild say that Boro remain interested, and Dortmund have said that the 27-year-old is free to move.

Belgians Anderlecht are also thought to be interested in Subotic.

Boro, though, did complete one bit of business yesterday, signing Finnish striker Mikael Soisalo from Finnish top-flight side Ilves Tampere.

The highly-rated 18-year-old will go straight into the Under-23 side where it is hoped he can develop over the next few seasons.

It is reported that Boro are also close to announcing the signing of Argentinian defender Pedro Silva Torrejon from Boca Juniors’ B team. The 19-year-old, similar to Soisalo, would join the Academy team.

Any other acquisitions, however, are unlikely before Sunday’s FA Cup third round match at home to Sheffield Wednesday (kick off 3pm).

The game offers an opportunity for Boro to embark on another exciting cup run, something they have previously enjoyed under Aitor Karanka’s management.

However, with Premier League safety the priority – Boro are just four points and two places above the drop zone after 20 games – a successful cup campaign could become a hindrance.

And midfielder Adam Clayton hasn’t lost sight of the importance of avoiding an immediate return to the Championship.

“We’re back in the Premier League, and that was our main aim from the moment I signed. We’ve achieved that, and we’re giving it a good fist to stay in the division,” he said.

“We want to stay in the league – that has to be the sole main priority for 2017.

“You can see from the type of people that we’ve brought into the club that the chairman is not resting on any laurels.

“He wants to make a success of being in this division. Just getting there isn’t enough – we’re more than determined to stay in this league.”

Championship play-off hopefuls Wednesday, like Boro, are set to make several changes.

French defender Vincent Sasso, recalled for Monday’s 0-0 draw with Wolves, hopes to figure again for the Owls.

He said: “Hopefully I have done enough to keep my place for Middlesbrough. I just have to train hard and be ready when the manager calls upon me.”

“It is a good match for us as Middlesbrough are a good team and we play really well against good teams, as we showed against Newcastle (in a 1-0 away win on Boxing Day).”