Middlesbrough attacker Matthew Hoppe is set for a return to the squad in January as the forward will not remain with the San Jose Earthquakes heading into 2024.
The American attacker joined Middlesbrough from Mallorca in 2022 for an initial £2.5 million fee, although ESPN have claimed that the full price would rise to £5 million with add-ons.
The striker was signed during Chris Wilder’s time in charge but failed to have much of an impact at the Riverside Stadium. After six goalless appearances in England’s second-tier, Hoppe was sent out on loan to Scottish side Hibernian.
Upon returning to Boro in the summer, Michael Carrick decided to send the 22-year-old back out on loan to the MLS, with Hoppe joining the SJ Earthquakes on a short-term loan with an option-to-buy.
Nevertheless, the Earthquakes have decided not to activate Hoppe’s option-to-buy clause, according to Teesside Live, having scored merely two goals in eight appearances back home in the United States of America.
As a result, the player is expected to return to Middlesbrough but cannot feature for the club until January at the earliest due to registration rules.
Hoppe was at Elland Road on Saturday, watching on as Carrick’s side fell to a 3-2 defeat against third-place Leeds United and has been training with the first-team, with the hopes of being registered to play in the new year.
Boro have had 14 different goalscorers this season, including summer signing Emmanuel Latte Lath who leads the team’s charts with six goals, but it will be interesting to see if Hoppe can still play a role under Carrick in the second half of the campaign.
Hoppe is just 18 months into a four-year deal so perhaps Carrick will look to give him one more chance in the team to judge his ability before eventually selling him next summer if he’s not up to scratch.
However, given he still has two and a half years remaining on his current contract, if Boro were to sell him, they may be able to recoup some of the money spent on him back in 2022.