Belfast Telegraph

Middlesbrough boss Aitor Karanka frustrated by lack of signings

Middlesbrough head coach Aitor Karanka has vented his frustration at the club's failure to capture his top transfer targets during the January window.

Boro had a bid turned down last week for Hull's Robert Snodgrass, who has since joined West Ham for £10.2million, while another target, Paris St Germain winger Jese Rodriguez, is understood to have opted for a loan switch to hometown club Las Palmas.

The transfer deadline is at 11pm on Tuesday and Karanka is clearly unimpressed with the club's new arrivals so far, with his side embroiled in a battle to avoid relegation from the Premier League.

Boro completed the permanent signings earlier this month of Patrick Bamford and Rudy Gestede, from Chelsea and Blackburn respectively, but Karanka wanted more.

"I said always the aim in the transfer window was to improve the squad and we didn't. I will try my best," Karanka told a press conference before Tuesday night's home game against West Brom.

"It's not difficult for me because I said after the (Accrington) game that I don't know anything that is happening with new players and I don't want to know.

"We have a game tomorrow and it's a really important game for us. We've been working really hard to prepare for the game.

"We had a first meeting one and a half months ago and we already knew the targets at that moment.

"Now with two days to finish we had an important game against Accrington on Saturday and we have a massive game tomorrow."

When asked why it had proved difficult to attract players to the club, Karanka said: "I don't know. That's not a question for me.

"I try my best. I'm thinking about tomorrow's game."

Karanka also bristled when questioned over the future of wantaway midfielder Gaston Ramirez, who will play no part for his side against West Brom.

Boro have turned down a bid from champions Leicester for Ramirez, who has been nursing a knee injury, while Karanka confirmed last week that the Uruguay international had handed in a written transfer request.

"Gaston has been training with the team yesterday and today, but the physio came to my office after the training session and said he couldn't play tomorrow," Karanka said.

"I was surprised, but the rest of the players are fit."

Asked whether he expected Ramirez to remain at the club, Karanka said: "I don't care. The only thing is Gaston Ramirez will be here on February 1. One hundred per cent."

Striker Jordan Rhodes is another high-profile Boro player who still faces an uncertain future.

Rhodes, signed for £9million from Blackburn one year ago, was widely expected to move on this month having made only six appearances for Karanka's side this season.

Boro turned down a recent offer from Aston Villa for the former Huddersfield forward and, when asked if he expected Rhodes to stay at the club beyond the deadline, Karanka said: "I don't know and I don't want to know.

"The club knew my thoughts one and a half months ago so the transfer window finishes tomorrow and we'll see what is happening."

Karanka confirmed George Friend would miss Tuesday night's game after being forced out of Saturday's FA Cup win against Accrington with a lower back problem.

But fellow defender Daniel Ayala returns to contention after a three-game ban and Antonio Barragan was also expected to be available following a hamstring problem.

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