Middlesbrough head coach Aitor Karanka has admitted Stewart Downing could be allowed to leave the club in a permanent deal this month.
Karanka insists the 32-year-old former England international remains part of his plans despite speculation that he could go out on loan after failing to win a regular place in the Boro team in recent weeks.
However, the Spaniard has thrown the ball firmly into the player’s court, while warning that he will only go if the deal is right for the club.
Asked if he will be allowed to leave, Karanka said: “I have said always that a player who wants to leave and Middlesbrough Football Club and another club agree the transfer…
“To find or to sell a player, to buy a player, to sign a player on loan, to bring in a player on loan from other places, all parties have to agree.
“If Stewart wants to leave and the clubs agree and everybody’s happy, then yes, of course.”
Downing has been heavily linked with Boro’s Premier League rivals Crystal Palace, where his former West Ham manager Sam Allardyce is currently in charge, although he has suitors in the Sky Bet Championship too.
However, it is understood the midfielder is not keen on a return to the second tier, from which he helped Boro emerge last season, and it remains to be seen whether or not the Teessiders would let him join a club like them engaged in a battle for top-flight survival.
Karanka said: “If the club thinks that it’s good for the club, good for the player and good for the club, I can’t say anything.”