Middlesbrough set to become another Chelsea feeder club?

Karanka/Mourinho friendship means a series of young Chelsea players could be set to move to Teesside.

Recent close ties to Vitesse Arnhem has seen several Chelsea youngsters propel the Dutch minnows to the top of the league, and Middlesbrough boss Aitor Karanka will be hoping that the same thing happens with his side.

Watford also benefitted from ex-boss Gianfranco Zola's ties to the club, with Josh McEachran and Nathaniel Chalobah enjoying spells in North London.

Karanka was Jose Mourinho's assistant at Real last year, and shares the same agent as the the Chelsea manager. This, and recently established links with Peter Kenyon, has ensured strong relations between the two clubs.

Blues starlets such as Kenneth Omeruo, Nathan Ake, Patrick Bamford, who is set to join Derby, and Nathaniel Chalobah, currently at Nottingham Forest, have all been linked in recent weeks. Returning loanees Gael Kakuta and Sam Hutchinson may also be added to that list over the coming days.

And Boro's Spanish manager has confirmed to Sky Sports that his team are in contact with Chelsea about a series of loans.

"We are working on a lot of players," Karanka said. "Just because I have a relationship with Jose, it is being said that I want 20 or more of his players. It's not true. Chalobah is a very good player.

"We are working with Chelsea on players, but a number of other teams too, to try to improve our squad too."

Middlesbrough already have two players on loan from the Premier League, Shay Given and Daniel Ayala, and will have to consider restrictions concerning domestic loans if they do look to bring in several Chelsea youngsters.

image: © Paul Hudson

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