Chuba Akpom discusses Middlesbrough future amid Sheffield United transfer interest

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Chuba Akpom has spoken about his future at Middlesbrough amid interest from Premier League new-boys, who have placed last season’s Championship top-scorer on their list of potential transfer targets following Iliman Ndiaye’s exit.

Akpom was a revelation for Boro last season as he fired 28 goals to take them into the Championship play-offs, after a remarkable run of form under Michael Carrick briefly threatened United’s place in the automatic promotion places. Boro’s play-off campaign failed against Coventry City at the semi-final stage and with his contract set to expire next summer, United have been linked with a transfer move as they look to the future without their star man Ndiaye.

Crucially Akpom is capable of playing in a deeper-lying striker role, similar to Ndiaye, but is currently battling for fitness after injury. Boro have opened contract talks with the 27-year-old former Arsenal man, who used his social media account recently to deny rumours that his contract demands were slowing progress over a potential new deal.

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Speaking at the EFL’s launch event in Sunderland recently, Akpom was asked if he wants to stay at the Riverside. “Yeah, of course,” he insisted. I’ve made it clear that I feel at home at Middlesbrough, so I think me saying that shows that I would love to stay.

“I’ve played my best football here and I just feel very loved by the fans. I still get a lot of love from the fans and I still feel at home at the club, in and around the training ground and stuff. We’ll just have to see how things go. A lot of things are not in my control or not in my hands, so I just have to focus on getting fit and being ready to play football again.”

Akpom damaged a knee in his side’s play-off defeat to Coventry but says he is “slowly getting there” in his pursuit of full fitness. His injury could affect any potential bid from the Blades, who would look to exploit Akpom’s contract status to pay a reduced fee if they followed up their initial interest, with boss Paul Heckingottom keen for any potential incomings to have an instant effect on his group as they target a quick start to life back in the Premier League after two seasons away.

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“I’m back on the grass and running and doing individual ball work, so it’s good progress,” Akpom said. “I don’t want to put a timeframe on it, I just go on how I feel really. You don’t want to rush it and get re-injured. So I take it day-by-day, but I can say I’m in a good position right now.”

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