‘Something to prove’ – Middlesbrough snatch exciting duo after losing out to Championship rivals

Middlesbrough manager Neil Warnock was a happy man after pulling off a late double transfer swoop to strengthen his squad for the remainder of the season.

The Championship play-off contenders secured two wingers late on deadline day to take their tally up to five new additions for the January window.

Warnock has reunited with free agent Nathaniel Mendez-Laing, who helped his Cardiff City team earn promotion to the Premier League in 2017-18, with a short-term deal until the end of the campaign.

That was followed by an agreement with Fulham to bring Neeskens Kebano, a double promotion winner out of the Championship, to the Riverside Stadium on loan.

They follow goalkeeper Jordan Archer and full-back Darnell Fisher, on permanent deals from Motherwell and Preston North End respectively, and on-loan Everton winger Yannick Bolasie in joining Boro.

Speaking on the signing of Mendez-Laing, 28, Warnock told Middlesbrough’s official club website: “I know Mendez well and he’ll give us an added dimension. It’ll be couple of weeks before he’s match fit but it’ll be great to have him for this run-in now.

“We have been short of wide players and he is a player with something to prove. We’re looking forward to having him here.”

The experienced boss also said of fellow 28-year-old Kebano: “It’s a deal I didn’t think would happen. We’ve been after Neeskens for a few weeks now and we’ve managed to get it over the line which is a real plus for us.

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“Mendez-Laing and Yannick are both lacking match fitness whereas Neeskens has been involved and playing. He’s another string to our bow and we’re looking forward to him joining us.”

After spells at Wolverhampton Wanderers, Peterborough United and Rochdale, it was at Cardiff under Warnock that Mendez-Laing really shone, helping them to promotion in his first season and then playing regularly in the Premier League.

However, he had been a free agent since having his contract terminated in September for a reported breach of contract.

Kebano is also no stranger to success in the Championship, with the former Paris Saint-Germain, Charleroi and Genk player helping Fulham to promotion in both 2018 and 2020.

However, he has played only five times in the top flight for the Cottagers this term, and will spend the remainder of the campaign back in the second tier with Boro.

Meanwhile, Middlesbrough also saw three players depart on deadline day, with Nathan Wood and Lewis Wing loaned out and Patrick Roberts recalled by Manchester City ahead of a switch to Derby County.

Centre-back Wood, 18, has made 12 Championship appearances for the club but will spend the rest of the season at League One side Crewe Alexandra, who already have Stephen Walker on loan from Boro.

Warnock has lent 25-year-old midfielder Wing to his former club and Championship rivals Rotherham United, who are currently battling relegation.

Roberts, 23, was in his second spell at the Riverside but only played 10 times in the first half of this season, leading to a recall by his parent club who will hope to see him get more action with Wayne Rooney’s Rams.

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