Gaston Ramirez has been somewhat of a controversial figure at Middlesbrough over the past season. He has gone from hero to villain and now looks to be departing the club.
Ramirez’s career underwent a resurgence at Boro. He Joined the Teessiders on loan in January 2016 in order to help them secure promotion. Middlesbrough were successful in doing so. In no small part due to Ramirez who scored seven and assisted four in half a season. The Uruguayan then made his move from Southampton to Middlesbrough permanent via a free transfer in July 2016.
Unfortunately for Boro, Ramirez’s 2016/17 season took a turn for the worse. Things started off pretty well with Ramirez being a stand out player for Middlesbrough and scoring one of the goals of the season against Bournemouth in October. However, by January, Ramirez was unhappy and submitted a transfer request amidst interest from Leicester City. This sparked conflict between Ramirez and manager at that time Aitor Karanka. This would lead to Ramirez missing large parts of the second half of the season.
Ramirez would eventually find his way back into the team and looked to be getting more game time under temporary manager Steve Agnew. But to bring this full circle, Ramirez started Boro’s second game against Bournemouth and managed to get himself sent off within 20 minutes through two silly yellow cards. Ramirez had gone from Hero against Bournemouth in October scoring Middlesbrough’s goal of the season. All the way to the most hated Boro player by the time Middlesbrough faced Bournemouth again in April.
After being sent off at Bournemouth he didn’t feature again for Boro and he looked certain to be leaving. Despite this, new boss Garry Monk was keen to work with Ramirez. Also, due to the fact he would no doubt be one of the best number 10’s in the Championship, many Boro fans were willing to forgive Ramirez and accept him as Boro’s number 10 for the upcoming season.
Once again, however, Ramirez’s agent has stirred things up, stating that Ramirez has to leave. The side most interested in Ramirez is Spanish side Real Betis and a deal looks to be going through any day now.
This would leave Boro with just one natural number 10 in Stewart Downing. But Downing also looks to be leaving Middlesbrough with Birmingham City his likely destination. Therefore, Middlesbrough, as it stands, looks to be starting the season without a natural number 10. A problem they will surely need to fix. Here are three players who could fill that void.
Jota is a 26-year-old Spanish attacking midfielder who plays for Championship side Brentford. He joined Brentford in 2014. But he struggled to break into the team. He even spent the first half of last season on loan at La Liga side SD Eibar.
However, judging by his second half of the season performance at Brentford, it’s hard to understand why he wasn’t clicking in the Championship. In the 21 Championship games he played last season, Jota scored 12 and managed five assists. A superb record for any attacking midfielder. It is also both more goals and assists than Ramirez managed in his half a season in the Championship with Boro (7 and 4).
Jota is a versatile attacking midfielder. He can play all across the midfield with his favoured positions being right wing and centre attacking midfield. This means he would be the perfect man to replace Ramirez.
After putting on one of the best half season performances in the Championship you would expect a host of clubs to be coming after Jota. Luckily for Middlesbrough though, there have reportedly been no concrete bids for the Spaniard. This is hugely surprising given Jota’s quality. But what it does mean is Middlesbrough should certainly try to sign him as a replacement for Ramirez.
Ryad Boudebouz is a 27-year-old Algerian attacking midfielder who plays for Ligue 1 side Montpellier. Boudebouz is an experienced number 10 of proven quality. Take his past season at Montpellier for example. He played 33 league games, 27 of those as a centre attacking midfielder and the remaining few on the right. In those 33 games, he scored 11 goals and got nine assists. This shows he is a CAM of proven quality and would be a quality addition to the Boro squad.
While people may believe it is unlikely Middlesbrough could lure a player of such quality to the Championship. Boro have already proven they can attract Ligue 1 stars. This summer they have already signed Ligue 1 forward Martin Braithwaite from Toulouse. Furthermore, Montpellier, Boudebouz’s team finished 15th, even lower than Braithwaite’s team. So, if Braithwaite is willing to join Boro there is no reason why Ryad wouldn’t either.
Middlesbrough could face some competition from Premier League sides if they decided to go after Ryad. Most notably Everton and Newcastle have expressed some interest in him. However, Middlesbrough have already proven this summer that they can fight off Premier League teams in order to sign players. For example, Burnley were very interested in Britt Assombalonga. But Boro managed to beat the Premier League side to his signature.
The final player Middlesbrough could replace Ramirez with is Deniz Turuc. Turuc is a Turkish 24-year-old CAM who plays in the Super Lig for Turkish side Kayserispor. Kayserispor themselves did not do too well in the league last season finishing 14th. Turuc, however, was their stand out player. He managed 11 goals and 11 assists in 32 league games. The only player in the league to hit double figures for both goals and assists. Therefore, if Deniz can score and assists so many goals in such a poor side then it surely shows that he would be a quality CAM for Middlesbrough in the Championship.
As for luring Turuc to Middlesbrough, that should be pretty easy. As mentioned earlier Kayserispor finished 14th in the Turkish league meaning Turuc would not be getting European football. Turuc has also not had any interest from any Premier League sides. So, if Boro offer the right money, the appeal of possibly playing in the Premier League after just one season will certainly attract Turuc’s interest.