Potential Bristol Rovers' exit Mustapha Carayol: Profile
Bristol Rovers’ Mustapha Carayol looks set to move to Middlesbrough, in a deal potentially in the region of £500,000.
Carayol has been with Rovers since June 2011, when he joined the club for an undisclosed fee.
The 23-year-old signed his first professional contract with the Milton Keynes Dons in 2007, after playing with the youth team at Swindon Town and Macclesfield Town.
He penned a two-year deal with the club and made his senior debut in August that year, appearing in a League Cup tie against Sheffield United.
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In October 2007 the Gambia-born winger went out on a month-long loan to Crawley Town, in a bid to gain further first-team experience.
He got off to a flying start at the club, scoring within half an hour of his debut to put the Reds ahead in an FA Cup fourth qualifying round match against Aldershot.
Assistant boss Paul Raynor told The Argus: "It was a fairytale start for him, he scored with pretty much his first touch, and he showed he is an exciting player.”
Carayol signed with Torquay United in the summer of 2008, where he would remain until 2010. He made more than 50 league appearances during his time at Plainmoor.
Carayol joined Kettering Town on a three-month loan in September 2009, going straight into the Poppies team to face Crawley Town in the Blue Square Premier.
Kettering boss Mark Cooper told BBC Radio Northampton: "He's a very quick, direct player. He can score a goal, can play left side or right side and can play up front.
"He gives us another option up front which is what I think we need, so he'll go straight into the team."
Carayol was not allowed to play in FA Cup competitions, as agreed by both parties in the contract.
In May 2010 the winger moved to Lincoln City, signing a two-year deal with the club. However, City had to compensate the Gulls, as Carayol was under the age of 24.
By the summer Lincoln City had agreed to pay League Two rivals Torquay £35,000 in staged payments for the player.
The clubs had been due to attend a Football League tribunal after being unable to reach a deal, but they came to an agreement days before the tribunal was scheduled to take place.
Although refusing to be drawn on the deal itself, Lincoln chairman Bob Dorrian told BBC Lincolnshire: "There is a fee involved and there's appearance money and a sell on clause.
"We're very happy with the deal. We think we've signed an excellent player and he hasn't cost us an awful lot of money in real terms."
Carayol remained at Lincoln until the summer of 2011, when he was put on the transfer list following the club’s relegation to the Blue Square Bet Premier.
Manager Steve Tilson told BBC Lincolnshire: "We need to change things around and hence what we have done.
"We have got to be sensible in and around a certain wage cap and sign players that are hungry and want to come and play."
Bristol Rovers snapped up Carayol in June 2011, committing the player to a two-year deal. He joined the club for an undisclosed fee.
The move saw him team up with boss Paul Buckle, who he worked with at Torquay.
Buckle told the club's official website: "I am really delighted to be working with Mustapha again. I rather reluctantly sold him to Lincoln when I was at Torquay, but it will be fantastic to link up with him again.
"He has a lot of pace and trickery and is a very exciting player. He is still young, and I am sure the Rovers fans will love watching him."
Carayol quickly earned himself a number of admirers. Barnsley made a bid for the player in the January 2012 transfer window, but were turned down. And in May the club saw yet another bid rejected, as did Middlesbrough.
Rovers rejected a six-figure bid from an unnamed club that month, with boss Mark McGhee telling BBC Radio Bristol: "As far as I'm concerned the price has come nowhere near the value Muzzy has. We have to respect his career but as a club we are entitled to achieve the value that we should be getting."
In April, with a year left to run on his deal, Carayol entered into talks with Rovers about extending his contract at the club.
Last month Rovers McGhee said he understood why Carayol had delayed signing a new contract with the Pirates. He told BBC Radio Bristol: "When a boy is presented with an opportunity that improves his prospects financially, you can understand him considering it.
"Aside from that, there's an opportunity to play two leagues above us. If it's a choice between playing in League Two and the Championship, I know what I would do.
"But we believe we had a good future here with the way the board are thinking and a new stadium.
"Maybe there's some story we can tell Muzzy to convince him to stay here in the long term."
On Saturday McGhee confirmed Mustapha Carayol was on the verge of signing with Middlesbrough.