La Liga champions Barcelona reportedly want Leganes’ Martin Braithwaite one year after he left Championship strugglers Middlesbrough.
When Martin Braithwaite slinked out the back door a year ago, his legacy at the Riverside tarnished forever, few at Middlesbrough would have expected to see a man who often flattered to deceive in the Championship linked with arguably the biggest club in European football 13 months on.
But, with Barcelona given special dispensation to sign a new striker outside the transfer window following a season-ending injury to Ousmane Dembele, there is a very real chance that a former Middlesbrough man could soon be forming a partnership with Lionel Messi and Antoine Griezmann in blue and red.
According to AS, Braithwaite is one of a number of surprise names on Barca’s hit list. And, with a £17 million release clause in his contract at La Liga strugglers Leganes, it seems that a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity could soon be heading in the Denmark international’s direction.
Braithwaite, in fairness, has enjoyed an excellent campaign at an otherwise rather average Leganes outfit. Six goals and two assists don’t tell the whole story of a technically gifted, adaptable attacking talent with the technical ability to thrive under Barca’s Cruyffian coach Quique Setien.
“The biggest disappointment for me is he’s the highest paid player I’ve ever worked with in the Championship,” former Middlesbrough boss Tony Pulis told the Gazette recently, reflecting on the time when Braithwaite went to rather unseemly lengths to secure an escape route out of Riverside.
“As a matter of fact, the last club I worked at, which was a Premier League club, he’d be in the top five earners at the club without a question of a doubt. (Owner) Steve Gibson bent over backwards, backwards, to give that lad everything he wanted to bring him to this club.
“To show the disrespect he’s shown to this club by saying he’s not coming back, to Steve Gibson, who’s made him a multi millionaire, let’s make no bones about it, the wages and what he’s earning are astonishing.
“For him to show Steve Gibson that disrespect, and the supporters and his fellow players, it’s just amazing.”
Speaking of ‘amazing’, Braithwaite could be about to go from Boro to Barcelona in the space of a year.