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Page last updated at 13:46 GMT, Tuesday, 13 May 2008 14:46 UK

Rochemback shown Boro exit door

Fabio Rochemback
Rochemback has been linked with a move back to Sporting Lisbon (AFP)

Middlesbrough have opted not to offer midfielder Fabio Rochemback a new contract when his deal expires in June.

The Brazilian, 27, played 33 times this season but has been allowed to leave, along with midfielder Gaizka Mendieta and striker Dong-Gook Lee.

"We both feel that the time is right for Fabio to have a fresh challenge," said Boro manager Gareth Southgate in a club statement.

"Fabio is a talented player, I think he has just had his best season for us."

Rochemback has now agreed a three-year contract with former club Sporting Lisbon after passing a medical. He will return to Sporting three years after leaving the Portuguese capital and will be coached by an ex-team-mate in Paulo Bento.

Mendieta, who joined from Valencia in 2004 initially on loan, played his part in their Carling Cup victory against Bolton that season.

However the former Spain international, who cost Lazio 29m in 2001, has failed to appear in any of their competitive games since December 2006 and Southgate admitted it was a tough call to let him leave.

606: DEBATE
Riverside_Pride

"It was a difficult situation for a player of Gaizka's calibre to find himself out of the first-team reckoning. It was a dent to his pride," said Southgate.

"I made it clear to him that he did not figure in my plans but he decided to stay and try to get back into the first team.

"That didn't work out but his attitude to training was always excellent and he was a good influence on some of our young reserve-team players."

South Korea international Dong-Gook Lee arrived on Teesside from K-League Pohang Steelers and impressed during an initial loan-spell.

However, his permanent move yielded just two goals but Southgate confirmed his attitude had never been a problem.

"We took a chance on signing Dong-Gook at a time when money was tight," said Southgate.

"By his own admission, he didn't play as well as he thought he could, but he was never a minute's problem."


see also
Middlesbrough complete Lee deal
25 Jan 07 |  Middlesbrough
Boro capture Brazilian Rochemback
31 Aug 05 |  Middlesbrough
McClaren hails Mendieta
22 Aug 03 |  Middlesbrough


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