Martin Braithwaite’s talent isn’t in doubt but Middlesbrough CAN’T keep a player who doesn’t want to stay

Based on what we’ve seen in the couple of months we’ve actually seen him play, Martin Braithwaite has the potential to be one of the best players in the Championship, writes Joe Nicholson.

By Joe Nicholson
Thursday, 20 June, 2019, 13:36
Martin Braithwaite scored three goals in Middlesbrough's first four league games last season.

When the Danish international returned to Teesside following a loan spell at Bordeaux last summer, he looked a class above England’s second tier, scoring three times in Boro’s first four league fixtures.

It didn’t last – and, just over a week later, the forward handed in a transfer request, 13 months after his big-money move from Toulouse.

Braithwaite’s actions, since he made it clear he doesn’t want to stay at Boro, makes you doubt if the relationship can ever be repaired.

His form dropped off dramatically following his initial request, and despite multiple social media posts saying he was ‘fully focused on giving everything’ to the team, the Dane rarely played for Boro post August, featuring just 12 times in the Championship.

After securing a loan move to Leganes in January, Braithwaite piled the blame on former Boro boss Tony Pulis, saying the project he was sold “changed completely" following his move to the Riverside.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

Yet that’s no reason to spit the dummy out, especially when, according to Pulis, Braithwaite is the highest paid player at the club.

Boro were in this situation when Gaston Ramirez’s move to Leicester fell through in January 2017. Ramirez had arguably been Boro’s best player that season, but was a shadow of his former self after downing tools mid-season.

Boro can’t have a repeat of that situation, and can’t build a team around a player who can’t be relied upon.

In his first press conference as Boro boss, Jonathan Woodgate left the door open for Braithwaite to resurrect his career on Teesside, saying everyone will start with a ‘clean slate.’

That’s only fair, yet Braithwaite has made it clear he doesn’t want to stay on Teesside, an attitude Boro simply can’t tolerate under their new boss.