Middlesbrough on the trail of 17-year-old midfielder Stephane Cueni

Middlesbrough have been identified as a potential suitor for Switzerland Under 18 international Stephane Cueni, per reports in Calciomercato.

Fixture In Focus banner Richard Lee

What’s the word?

The Italian publication has identified Boro as English opposition to three Serie A outfits who are keeping tabs on Cueni.

Udinese, Torino and Parma are believed to be monitoring the 17-year-old as he develops in the Swiss fourth tier for Team Vaud’s under 18s, whereas Calciomercato suggests Tony Pulis’ side are ‘on the trail’.

Cueni is known to be a box-to-box midfielder, capable of playing across the midfield and as a second striker, and has captained his U18s side on four occasions this season while also making one substitute outing for the Under 21s.

Interest has been growing in the 5 foot 9 Switzerland youth international as his contract at Team Vaud expires in the summer and will be available on a free transfer.

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Why would it be a mistake?

With Middlesbrough in a promotion push – sitting in second place on 31 points after 17 games – Tony Pulis should be focusing on strengthening the first team rather than looking at potential future prospects yet to play a senior minute.

Despite being just two points behind Championship-leading Norwich, Boro have one of the poorest goalscoring records with just 19 scored – only the bottom three and Queens Park Rangers have scored fewer.

An average goals per game ratio of just 1.1 is not sustainable in a promotion challenge when the teams vying for the same spots have so far netted between 25 and 37, nearly twice the tally of Pulis’ men.

Just four points separate Middlesbrough from sitting outside the Play-Off positions altogether, leaving an even greater weight on the shoulders of three centre-forwards with 10 of the side’s goals shared between them.

While Cueni may prove to be a decent option for the future, Boro’s transfer priority right now should be looking to bring in established firepower that can get them over the line in the race for promotion.

Have your say on whether Tony Pulis should pursue Cueni in our poll below…