Speaking to Teesside Live, Middlesbrough manager Neil Warnock admitted their summer signing of striker Chuba Akpom was a little out of the ordinary.
Akpom started his Middlesbrough career very well, scoring twice in his opening two games, however, he then went on a 13 game run without a goal. He has only scored twice since then, but he has been used in rotation with Britt Assombalonga, Ashley Fletcher and Duncan Watmore in recent weeks.
But having signed from PAOK in Greece during the COVID-19 pandemic, Boro manager Neil Warnock admitted the recruitment process had to be altered slightly.
“The recruitment team, he was top of their list. We couldn’t watch games in that period, we only looked at Chuba on the internet. He looked the best of the bunch from what we were looking at.”
Whilst fans may find this slightly worrying, admittedly there isn’t much else clubs were able to do in terms of scouting players from overseas.
Having come through the Arsenal academy under Arsene Wenger, Akpom does know the English game. He also plied his trade at Coventry City, Hull City and Brighton and Hove Albion before making the switch to Greece and so the Boro boss will know what he can do in this division.
“I think on the stats,” said Warnock.
“The recruitment were convinced he was the best one. He started off really well.”
All of Middlesbrough’s other signings during the campaign have been from other clubs in England and so the club didn’t encounter the same issues.
Akpom joined the likes of Grant Hall, Sam Morsy and Duncan Watmore, as well as loanees Marcus Bettinelli and Patrick Roberts in the summer, whereas Yannick Bolasie, Neeskens Kebano, Nathaniel Mendez-Laing, Jordan Archer and Darnell Fisher signed in January.
With Ashley Fletcher sustaining an injury in the 3-1 home defeat to Bristol City earlier in the week, Akpom may be given a chance to impress Warnock as Middlesbrough take on Cardiff City on Saturday afternoon.