Southgate dismisses Tuncay Chelsea speculation

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Middlesbrough boss Gareth Southgate has laughed off suggestions that Chelsea could get their hands on striker Tuncay Sanli for £8m.

The Blues are reportedly ready to launch a bid to take the 26-year-old Turkey international to Stamford Bridge when the transfer window opens next month.

However, Southgate, who is under no pressure to sell any of his big names, has warned them they would have to go much higher than that if they wanted to leave Boro with a decision to make.

He said: "I was quite amused at the figure they put on his head because the club that were linked pay double that for full-backs.

"As you go towards January, you know it can be an unsettling period at all football clubs because speculation runs wild, it's the nature of the transfer window.

"We have to do all we can to try to keep our best players, and if we can add to the squad, we will try to do that."

Tuncay has been a big hit on Teesside since joining on a free transfer from Fenerbahce in July 2007.

Southgate has been hugely impressed with his bargain buy, both on and off the pitch, and is not surprised that even Chelsea, with their star-studded squad, have been alerted to his talent.

He said: "He's a terrific player. He is an intelligent footballer. He can play in any number of different positions.

"He scored eight goals last year and has four already this year from a deep striking role. He can play wide, he can play in midfield and he is a joy to work with.

"He is a real character around the place and a big influence on our team."

Tuncay is one of three high-profile Boro players currently being linked with moves away from the Riverside Stadium, with Tottenham once again on the trail of England winger Stewart Downing and Wigan renewing their pursuit of Egyptian striker Mido.

Southgate has the full backing of chairman Steve Gibson to retain every member of his existing squad, although the proceeds of any sales could come in useful.

Southgate has told his players his door is always open if they find themselves caught up in the speculation.

He added: "There's nothing we can do about it, people are going to speculate.

"Some of the stories will be way adrift of the mark, some will have an element of truth, one or two might be bang on.

"Every club is going to have this through December and January. The first year it took me, not by surprise, but I was amazed at how unsettling a period it is for a football club.

"Last year I was better prepared and this year I know what's coming.

"You have to remind players that if there are things they want to discuss or find out about, knock on the door and talk, because we can put a lot of the speculation aside.

"But it can be unsettling for the group, and then that all finishes on January 31 and everyone realises they are where they are for another six months and they get on with their job again."

Meanwhile, Southgate has confirmed full-back Justin Hoyte is facing surgery on a knee cartilage injury which would sideline him for several weeks.