Fletcher, 21 left West Ham’s pre-season training camp in Germany to begin talks with the Championship side.
Slaven Bilic told a press conference on Thursday:
“We got a fantastic offer for Ashley and ideally I wanted to help him with a different kind of scenario, but at the end of the day the offer was so good for the Club and for him personally.
I spoke to him on Wednesday night and I told him to be proud of the step that he made since coming to West Ham last year to being a player that a lot of clubs from the Championship are asking for.
To make such a big step is a big bonus for him and a big thing for him. He’s very young, very promising, a great lad and a great trainer, so he can improve a lot.”
The Manchester United youth product only managed to score one goal during his time in claret and blue. However, his tenacity and work-ethic endeared Fletcher to Hammers fans, many felt that he would grow in confidence in a second season at London Stadium.
Middlesbrough are getting a very good young talent in Ashley Fletcher. A decent signing if it goes through.— Tony Gale (@TonyGale13) July 27, 2017
what was the point in buying Ashley Fletcher??? Bags of potential IMO but obv Bilic never rated him & now he's off..crazy transfer biz..— ronan fagan (@rinanfafan) July 27, 2017
Middlesbrough will be keen to strengthen their attack after conceding a league-worst 27 Premier League goals in the 2016/17 campaign. Their current strike force consists of Patrick Bamford and Rudy Gestede. Gestede is so bad that he once went 43 games without a win in the top-flight. Boro need goals badly.
Fletcher joined West Ham last summer after his Manchester United contract expired, he spent six years coming up through the youth system. He left the Red Devils without making a single first team appearance. Fittingly, Fletcher’s solitary West Ham goal came at Old Trafford during a 4-1 defeat in the EFL Cup Quarter Final.
Despite the wasted potential, £6.5 million for a striker who has never scored in the league is very good business from the Irons. A sentence that looks strange written down. Of course, knowing West Ham’s luck this will be the biggest missed opportunity since John Terry left The Academy of Football.