MIDDLESBROUGH are back in talks with Blackburn Rovers over Jordan Rhodes – but Venky’s are thought to be extremely reluctant to sell the striker to another Championship club.

Rovers fielded interest from Middlesbrough before the closure of the loan window in March and the Teesside club have now made contact once more about Rhodes, after fellow strike target Patrick Bamford joined Crystal Palace earlier this week.


Middlesbrough are prepared to spend big in their attempt to secure promotion to the Premier League, having fallen just short in the play-off final last season, and have been looking to find out whether a deal could be possible for Rhodes.

Rovers are faced with a dilemma as they look to escape from a transfer embargo, knowing that selling either Rhodes or fellow striker Rudy Gestede would be the only way of taking a large step towards having those restrictions lifted.

Rhodes is understood to be valued at around £12m but Venky’s are believed to be very hesitant about allowing the prolific forward to join a Championship rival.

Rovers’ Indian owners are still intent on returning the club to the top flight – a stance outlined in the Venky’s London Limited accounts this week – and do not want to strengthen the promotion credentials of a rival club.

Rovers did sell Tom Cairney to fellow Championship side Fulham last month but Rhodes has long since been regarded by Venky’s as the jewel in the crown - a successful £8m signing from Huddersfield Town in 2012, delivering 74 goals in three seasons.

Although they refused to sell Rhodes to Hull City a year ago, they may now potentially consider an offer from a Premier League club if it met Rovers’ asking price and the 25-year-old wanted to move to the top flight.

But the owners are more prepared to dig their heels in over interest from Middlesbrough, fearing a backlash from fans and a scenario where Rhodes returns to Ewood Park and scores against Rovers this season.

Huddersfield would be due 20 per cent of any profit Rovers made if they sold Rhodes.

Middlesbrough are thought to be reluctant to pay the entirety of any transfer fee up front but are determined to bring in Rhodes, who is the nephew of their assistant manager Steve Agnew.

The north east side are trying to sign Uruguay international Christian Struani in addition to Rhodes and have already spent £5m to lure Stewart Downing back to the Riverside from Premier League side West Ham United.

Downing spoke to the media yesterday and indicated that he was assured during negotiations that other big signings were also planned.

“The pull was my hometown club. It was also the plans the chairman has and players he was bringing in,” Downing said.

“I can’t tell you who they are but they are good players.”