Middlesbrough boss Aitor Karanka has highlighted the impact made in recent weeks by on-loan Southampton player Gaston Ramirez.
Karanka was effusive in his praise for the Uruguayan playmaker during his press conference and has alluded to his game changing ability during a period where Boro seemed to be struggling to find the net. “He is a premier league player and played at a World Cup. When he’s fit, he’s an amazing player”.
Ramirez has been plagued with injury through his career but Karanka has gently bed him into the team and managed him accordingly. “I knew the problems he had had with injuries, I had to manage him. When he came he didn’t play his first games. He was on the bench or played 70/75 minutes. Playing his best he is one of the best”.
Middlesbrough were far from clinical through the end of January and into February and with fans expecting new big money signing Jordan Rhodes to be the catalyst for a barrage of goals it has been Ramirez who has provided the guile and goals and shown his premier league calibre.
Tuesday night he again proved pivotal, with one assist and two goals the second of which being a sumptuous free kick into the top right corner in Boro’s win against Huddersfield at the Riverside. Although Karanka implied it could have been different. “If you look at the result at the end you think it was an amazing game. It was for some moments but for the first 20/25 minutes we were running behind the ball. The player who changed everything was Gaston”.
Ramirez now has 6 goals in 10 starts for Middlesbrough which compares well to the 7 league goals he managed previously for Hull and Southampton since 2012.
Talk is already starting to surface about his situation in the summer as his current Southampton contract expires and many would expect Boro to be in to sign him, especially should they get promoted.
Boro’s next game will see Preston visit the Riverside. The fixture on the opening day of the season was a stalemate 0-0 with Preston frustrating Boro as then number 10 Stewart Downing hardly got a kick and with Boro failing to register a shot on goal. It may be a different story this time around as Boro look to carry the momentum of 6 goals in two matches onto Saturday.