Middlesbrough's January transfer gamble which is worth taking

At the start of play on transfer deadline day Middlesbrough knew the areas which needed addressing.

Saturday, 1st February 2020, 7:00 am
Updated Saturday, 1st February 2020, 7:00 am
Ravel Morrison has joined Middlesbrough on loan from Sheffield United until the end of the season.

The Teessiders’ need for another centre-back has been well documented over the last week, while Patrick Roberts’ hamstring injury left Boro searching for another playmaker too.

Both positions were filled before Friday’s 11pm deadline, with defender Harold Moukoudi and midfielder Ravel Morrison arriving on loan from Saint-Etienne and Sheffield United respectively.

Moukoudi may not be as well known as some of Boro’s other defensive targets, but comes with a promising reputation from France.

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Following the move, Boro head coach Jonathan Woodgate described the 22-year-old as “a unit of a defender, a real big, strong lad, and a quality player.”

With Daniel Ayala set for another month on the sidelines with an ankle injury, Moukoudi could be exactly what the Teessiders need right now, especially with a vacancy in the centre of Boro’s back three.The move should allow Paddy McNair to slot back into midfield following his temporary spell in the heart of defence.

Further forward, some will argue that Morrison represents more of a gamble, and the 26-year-old has now had nine different clubs since leaving Manchester United in 2012.

The player’s attitude has been questioned on more than one occasion in that time, yet Morrison undoubtedly comes with plenty of ability.

A loan deal until the end of the season appears to be a risk worth taking though. Like Roberts, Morrison is a potential match winner who could become a real asset if he settles in.

The arrivals Morrison and Moukoudi took Boro’s January signing count to five, with the pair following Roberts, Lukas Nmecha and goalkeeper Dejan Stojanovic though the door.

Woodgate and Boro’s recruitment team deserve credit for that. Earlier this month the Boro boss explained how he met with Manchester City’s sporting director back in November to discuss deals for Roberts and Nmecha.

Boro have also reacted to potentially unsettling circumstance this month, firstly finding an immediate replacement following Darren Randolph’s move to West Ham.

Plans were then tweaked following Roberts’ injury, and the Teessiders now look set for a strong finish to the season.