Middlesbrough boss Southgate warns Alves over starting spot

Middlesbrough boss Gareth Southgate has warned Afonso Alves his record fee does not guarantee him a place in the team.

The 27-year-old Brazilian arrived in England from Dutch club Heerenveen during the winter transfer window with an impressive pedigree and a reputed £12.7million price tag.

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Indeed, a man who scored 49 goals at a rate of one a game for his previous club is yet to find the back of the net in seven appearances, four of them as a substitute.

Southgate insisted from day one that the South American, who has also played in Sweden, would need time to acclimatise, but while he remains confident there is much more to come from his big money capture, he insists he will only win his place on merit and not reputation or market value.

Southgate said: "He has hardly had any time on the field for us, really. When you bring a player in for that sort of fee, it immediately attracts a lot more attention.

"Tuncay Sanli was a free and Jeremie Aliadiere was £2million, and that does not carry the weight of expectation for them.

"But in training and when I am picking the team, I do not view them any differently just because one has come for a large sum of money.

"We treat them all the same and pick the team on the same basis.

"I know it is going to take him time - I said that from the day we signed him and nothing has changed in that respect.

"I am quite comfortable with that situation."

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