Middlesbrough Make Important Contract Decision

Middlesbrough are working on fresh terms for summer signing Rav van den Berg amid speculation linking the defender to a host of Premier League clubs, according to the Northern Echo.

The 19-year-old joined the Teesside club last July for an undisclosed fee from Dutch club PEC Zwolle. The signing was seen as a major coup for Michael Carrick’s team, especially with the likes of AS Roma, AC Milan and Bayern Munich all thought to have been keen.

It’s been an impressive debut season for the Netherlands under-21 international. Having made 34 appearances in all competitions, he scored his first goal for the club in a 4-0 win over Preston North End in November.

Despite his young age, Carrick has entrusted the youngster with the captain’s armband on occassion. He has also played in several positions across the back line, showing his versatility.

It’s this ability which has caught the eye of a number of Premier League clubs. HITC reported earlier this month that there was interest from several parties, including Bournemouth, Brentford, Brighton & Hove Albion, Crystal Palace, Everton and West Ham United. As such, Middlesbrough are now exploring improved terms.

Van den Berg is already under contract until 2027 after penning a four-year deal last summer. However, the Northern Echo state that talks over a fresh deal have already taken place.

The manager is also impressed with what he has seen from the teenager since his arrival in the North East:

“I don’t think you can be anything but hugely impressed with Rav,” Carrick said, via Teesside Live. “His performances, when you consider that he’s coming here from Holland at such a young age . . . new experiences, new club, new country, new way of living, new type of football.

“Then you consider he’s played right-back for the first time in his life, he’s played left-back for the first time in his life, he’s played centre-back in a four and a three – he always handles himself so well and never really looks flustered. He looks composed.

“So there is so much to be impressed by. His ability we kind of knew from our scouting and we believed we could help him get better. He’s developed an awful lot, but also he has that character and that desire to want to do well. He’s so keen to improve. He handles everything in a way that is credit to him.”

Middlesbrough have the weekend off thanks to the international break and are next back in action next Friday when they take on Southampton at St Marys.

Writer’s View

Middlesbrough’s stance is understandable. Although he has only been at the Riverside for such a short period of time, that is unlikely to put off any potential suitors and they could try their luck in the summer. An improved contract could significantly improve their chances of keeping him.

Van den Berg looks to be enjoying life under Michael Carrick but will harbour ambitions of playing at a higher level. Boro are unlikely to be playing Premier League football next season, although they won’t have given up on the play-offs just yet. They currently sit 10th, seven points behind sixth-placed Norwich City.

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