KARANKA TRIBUTE AS KIKE DEPARTS
AITOR KARANKA admitted that competition for places was why he allowed Spanish striker Kike to leave Middlesbrough.
Kike completed a move to La Liga side Eibar this week but won’t be available to play for his new club until the summer transfer window in July after the Spanish side failed to get the registration lodged in time.
It means the 25-year-old front man faces a long wait to play again, though the same could have been true had he stayed at Boro.
This season, Karanka has splashed the cash on strikers David Nugent and Jordan Rhodes, the latter arriving last week for £9m.
The Boro boss believes releasing Kike was the best thing for the Spaniard’s career. He praised his former striker, despite a modest record of just 16 goals in 75 appearances.
“He played here for 75 games, against Manchester United for example,” said Karanka. “But the pressure was coming and good players were arriving.
“When I first arrived, our striker was Curtis Main, and now we have David Nugent and Jordan Rhodes.
“The team is improving and you have to show everyone how good you are. At the minute, Nugent and Rhodes are better than Kike.
“But I have to say thank you to him as his attitude and his behaviour have been perfect for me.”