Finn Azaz joins Middlesbrough from Aston Villa in £2.5m deal

Finn Azaz, the 23-year-old Irish midfielder, has completed his move from Aston Villa to Middlesbrough for an undisclosed fee, believed to be around £2.5 million. Azaz, who has played for the Ireland Under-21s, was recalled by Villa from his loan spell at Plymouth Argyle, where he had scored seven goals and provided five assists in 26 Championship appearances this season.

Azaz, who was born in England and has Irish and Israeli descent, joined Villa from West Brom in 2021, but never made a senior appearance for the club. He spent the 2021-22 season on loan at Newport County, helping them reach the League Two play-offs, and then joined Plymouth for the last season and a half, helping them win promotion from League One and establish themselves in the second tier.


Boro beat rivals to secure Azaz’s signature

Middlesbrough, who are managed by former Manchester United and England star Michael Carrick, beat off competition from several other clubs to sign Azaz, who was also linked with Bristol City, Southampton and Toulouse. Carrick, who took over from Neil Warnock in November, was impressed by Azaz’s performances and versatility, as he can play as an attacking midfielder, a winger or a forward.

Carrick said: “We are delighted to welcome Finn to the club. He is a talented and exciting player who can create and score goals. He has shown his quality and potential at Plymouth and we believe he can make an impact for us. He is a perfect fit for our style of play and our ambitions.”

Azaz could face Villa in FA Cup clash

Azaz, who has signed a three-and-a-half-year contract with Boro, could make his debut for his new club against his former club Villa in the FA Cup third round on Saturday. He said: “I am very happy to join Middlesbrough. It is a big club with a great history and a great manager. I want to thank Aston Villa and Plymouth for giving me the opportunity to play and develop. I am looking forward to a new challenge and a new chapter in my career.”

Azaz, who has one cap for the Ireland Under-21s, which he earned in a European Championship play-off against Israel in September 2022, also hopes to catch the eye of Stephen Kenny, the Ireland senior manager, and earn a call-up for the upcoming World Cup qualifiers in March.

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