One of Middlesbrough’s less popular foreign imports could indirectly help them secure the signing of arguably the club’s most popular former player, Juninho.

Brazilian midfielder Emerson, frequently criticized for his lack of commitment to the Teessiders, has finally joined Atletico Madrid from Spanish rivals Deportivo la Coruna.

His arrival at the club could help push through Juninho’s return to England. Having agreed terms with Atletico the deal to bring the Brazilian to England foundered over the player’s personal terms. However, Middlesbrough boss, Steve McClaren, yesterday upped his offer to bin the hope of persuading the World Cup winner to return to the club.

Like Middlesborough, Atletico are desperate forsuccess in the coming season. Having spent two seasons in La Segunda, they are keen to reinforce their status as one of the major clubs in Spanish football and to that end, Jose Mari, Demetrio Albertini and Javi Moreno have all arrived from Milan.

“I have come here with the desire to achieve many great things and mainly to obtain some titles,” said Moreno who enjoyed great success in Spain with Alaves before his switch to Italy in the summer of 2001.