By Harry Sykes

Middlesbrough have joined the race to sign Aston Villa forward Rudy Gestede in the January window, according to a report.

The Guardian claim that the Premier League strugglers “are to challenge Crystal Palace in pursuit of the Villa striker”.

It is said that Steve Bruce, the manager of the Championship big hitters, is prepared to listen to offers for the target man, 28, and he could leave the club next month.

The report states that Villa could seek to secure Boro striker Jordan Rhodes in exchange “if the forward is made available by the Teeside club”.

News site HITC claimed recently that Middlesbrough are willing to listen to offers of £10million for Rhodes, who only joined the Premier League side in January of this year after extensive negotiations with his former club Blackburn.

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But Rhodes, a prolific scorer at Blackburn and Huddersfield, has struggled for game time at the Premier League club and has had just 208 minutes of first team action this season.

Palace manager Alan Pardew is in the market for a striker to share the goalscoring burden with eight-goal leading scorer Christian Benteke following the season-ending injury suffered by Ipswich academy graduate Connor Wickham.

Gestede has slipped down the pecking order under Steve Bruce, starting only three of the manager’s 11 matches in charge, and is behind first choice Jonathan Kodjia at Villa Park.

Benin international Gestede has started eight of Villa’s 22 Championship matches, scoring four goals and supplying one assist.

Football Insider verdict:

Villa fans would think all their Christmases had come at once if they were to sell Gestede in January and sign Rhodes as his replacement. Gestede has immense nuisance value due to his power and physical presence, but Rhodes is a different kettle of fish altogether. His raison d’etre is goals, and lots of them. The Scot lives for putting the ball in the back of the net and has a superb track record in the English lower leagues. Villa should pull out all the stops to lure Rhodes in part-exchange for Gestede.

In other Aston Villa transfer news, the club will make a £10million bid for a £50,000-a-week international ace.