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Jan 12, 2021

The story of Martin Braithwaite going from EFL Championship club Middlesbrough to signing for Barcelona in the space of 13 months is one of football's most curious.

Driven by necessity, that mother of invention, the Catalan giants got special dispensation to sign the Denmark forward from lowly Leganes, who went on to be relegated without him. An injury crisis at the Camp Nou left Barca short on attacking options if you can believe it, and a release clause of €18,000,000 seemed a small price to pay for a stop-gap solution.

There is more than one of those in Catalonia right now, with this sporting giant of a club in crisis behind the scenes for much of Braithwaite's time on their books to date. One of the ironies is that, while this has all been going on, Middlesbrough have had their own hard times but seemingly bounced back on a shoestring.

Braithwaite twice left The Riverside on loan after signing a four-year contract in July 2017 in a reported £9,000,000 transfer from Toulouse, first to return to France's Ligue 1 with Bordeaux and then Leganes. The latter paid around €5,000,000 to make the arrangement permanent, so Boro made a loss on him.

Signing Braithwaite in the first place was supposed to bolster a promotion push to get back into the Premier League. During his first season with Middlesbrough, they lost out in the lethal lottery that is the Championship play-offs, while in his second they just came up short in their bid for a top-six finish.

With Braithwaite off their books for good, Boro moved in a new direction. Parachute payments from their previous Premier League stint were drying up, so rookie coach and local lad Jonathan Woodgate, an infamous former Real Madrid defender, was catapulted into management.

It was a gamble that didn't pay off. Just a year into his managerial career, Woodgate was axed by Steve Gibson - a chairman with perhaps the best reputation for patience in English football - and replaced by as boss by someone at the opposite end of the spectrum.

Neil Warnock was 71 when he took the Middlesbrough job, a veteran of 15 different previous clubs (some he managed twice) and 40 years of half-time team talks. He guided them to safety and, as if that wasn't miraculous enough, has somehow got them challenging for the play-offs again this season.

Middlesbrough are at 9/1 in the current Championship betting on promotion this term despite having one of the smallest squads in the division. There have been no big-name signings like Braithwaite behind this remarkable revival in fortunes, just a style and coach tailored to suit the budget and level of football being played.

If only all clubs cut their cloth accordingly. Braithwaite might be turning out in major La Liga matches, but his old side is punching above their weight in an ultra-competitive division.

You would not put it past Warnock, whose own playing career was a far cry from that of current Barca counterpart Ronald Koeman, from adding yet another against all odds promotion to his CV. Middlesbrough may just continue to surprise a few while Braithwaite does the same in Spain.

All About FC Barcelona is a Blog dedicated to the Most prestigous Club in the world, FC Barcelona by an ardent fan. Here I discuss about the Latest happening surrounding our Club and present my Views about the same.

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