Middlesbrough forward Britt Assombalonga has been linked with a move away from the club in recent weeks, with the likes of Leeds United, Nottingham Forest and even Fenerbahce linked with the striker.
Assombalonga was bought for £15 million last season from Nottingham Forest, and was guaranteed goals. Although the DR Congo international did score 15 goals in all competitions for Middlesbrough last season, his inconsistency ultimately was one reason why Middlesbrough fell short in their pursuit of automatic promotion.
The goals Assombalonga scored all came against sides placed 16th and below, apart from Leeds United which came from the penalty spot, and against Derby County and Millwall, which both came in the last three games of the season. Over a third of his goals for the campaign were scored against 21st placed Bolton Wanderers and 23rd placed Burton Albion.
Although the argument ‘you can only score against what’s in front of you’ certainly comes into play, Assombalonga barely contributed a goal against any of the sides Middlesbrough were challenging at the top of the table until the last three weeks of the season.
After Garry Monk left Middlesbrough in December, and Tony Pulis took over, Assombalonga only completed 90 minutes twice, and only made 10 starts up until May. It wasn’t a case of the striker losing his place and his goalscoring suffered as a result, because when Pulis took the reigns, Assombalonga had scored one goal in his last six, and rightfully lost his place to Patrick Bamford.
Bamford repaid the managers faith, and was more consistent, along with Adama Traore in finding the net. Constantly posing a threat was something which Assombalonga failed to offer on a weekly basis, and Middlesbrough’s top six finish was primarily down to Bamford and Traore’s goalscoring touch.
If the likes of Leeds and Forest can get Assombalonga for a cut price deal, for less than the £15 million valuation, then it could be worth it. He does score goals in this division, and he could be more suited to another manager’s tactics and style of play.
From a Middlesbrough perspective, if they can recuperate the £15 million they paid to Nottingham Forest last summer, it will be a shrewd bit of business from the Teessiders.