DARRYL Eales says Marvin Johnson's desire to move left Oxford United with only one option - getting the highest fee possible.

The saga ended this afternoon with the winger's move to Middlesbrough for an undisclosed fee, believed to be in the region of £2.5million, plus add-ons.

There has been speculation for most of the summer about the 26-year-old, but the U's chairman had repeatedly insisted it would take an "unbelievable offer" for him to leave.

But Johnson has made himself unavailable for the last three games, prompting United to change their stance.

Eales told the club's website: "The last couple of weeks have undoubtedly been challenging.

"Pep would have very much liked to have retained Marvin and this was made clear to the player but it became increasingly evident that Marvin saw his future elsewhere.

"Our team-based and collective culture is the foundation of our progress and it is essential that every member of the squad is 100 per cent committed to our cause.

"On this basis, the overriding requirement was securing a deal which is beneficial to the club and supports the sustainable growth in the playing budget and the strengthening of the squad.

"The deal agreed with Middlesbrough, who conducted negotiations in exemplary fashion, was highly attractive and met all the above criteria.

"The challenge now is to use the extra funds wisely in this and subsequent windows.

"We have an excellent recruitment team and I am confident that Pep and the team will achieve this objective.

"Overall, we have a the strongest squad under my tenure and can look forward to continuing our positive start to the season."

Losing a player of Johnson's quality is a blow to Pep Clotet, but the U's boss maintained his focus is only on the players who want to be at the club.

He said: "I never move from what I’ve always said – the important thing for me is the players that remain at the club want to take it forward and want to become important for us and believe we can keep growing.

"Marvin has chosen a different path.

"The important thing for me is to ensure the focus is on the ones we have that will take us forward.

"As my focus has always been on the players who are really committed to Oxford and the players who always gave everything they had for Oxford I don’t feel relief.

"Nothing apart from that has been in my mind."