Why Middlesbrough will struggle to find a better striker than Britt Assombalonga this season
Reports linking Middlesbrough striker Britt Assombalonga with a move away resurfaced this week – with supposed interest from the middle east.
There have also been claims the 26-year-old frontman has become unsettled on Teesside after losing his place midway through last season.
Yet Assomblaonga was full of praise for new head coach Jonathan Woodgate during a recent interview at the Africa Cup of Nations, where he’s representing DR Congo in Egypt.
And, after netting 14 league goals in a Boro side which was hardly wired to play attacking football, it would be a big risk to let the striker go this summer.
Boro paid a reported £15million for Assombalonga in the summer of 2017, and with chairman Steve Gibson fully aware of the EFL’s Financial Fair Play boundaries, it’s unlikely Boro will folk out that sort of money again.
Yes Assombalonga missed chances last season, it happens to even the best, yet he also had the ability to create something from nothing – remember his goals against Blackburn and West Brom.
With a lack of verve and cutting edge in the final third, Boro needed moments like those to win games last season – Assombalonga one of the few capable of producing them.
And under the watchful eye of new coach Robbie Keane, the Congolese frontman will be able to learn from one of the very best – a man who scored over 100 Premier League goals during his playing day.
Of the other out-and-out strikers on Boro’s books, Ashley Fletcher, showed significant improvements towards the end of last season but is still relatively unproven at Championship level.
Rudy Gestede, meanwhile, did score 20 league goals for Blackburn last season, but barely featured last campaign.
Before he signed for Boro, Assombalonga was a regular goalscorer for Nottingham Forest in the Championship, a striker with that instinctive quality and ability to lead the line.
That’s why Boro signed him, and when the striker first joined the club he netted 11 goals in his first 18 games.
Those sorts of stats will give Jonathan Woodgate’s side an attacking platform to build from next season – Boro will struggle to find someone better.