McClaren confident of new deal with Zenden

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The Independent Football

Steve McClaren, the Middlesbrough manager, is optimistic that the club can keep the Dutch midfielder Boudewijn Zenden as negotiations over a new deal with the player continue.

The 28-year-old has rejected the club's initial offer, but McClaren is confident that decision was just a part of the bargaining process and he is hopeful that an agreement can be reached.

"Yes, I am confident," he said. "Bolo has been terrific for this football club. I was talking to the chairman about the necessity to make sure we keep our best players this year.

"Out of the 51 games we have played, he has played 49 and scored eight goals and how many assists? And he has never missed a day's training. What value can you put on that?

"He has played at Chelsea, Barcelona and he has been a squad player, whereas here, he is a star. The fans love him and that in itself has got value."

Zenden adopted similar tactics last summer when, after protracted negotiations, he decided to sign just a one-year contract and leave his options open. He has again proved a valuable member of McClaren's first-choice side, moving to central midfield in the wake of Gaizka Mendieta's season-ending knee injury with the new England international Stewart Downing coming in on the left of midfield.