Middlesbrough FC has been the stand-out team in the Premier League as far as the transfer window is concerned. They have outshone every other team hands-down if every variable is considered. After Aitor Karanka fulfilled the club’s objective of qualifying for the Premier League, it was expected the pragmatic boss would mainly build his side around the players who ensured promotion and make a couple of value additions at most. But Boro have smashed through all the notions and made a raft of signings which would put a settled mid-table club to shame.
Karanka has overseen signings of players like Marten De Roon, Viktor Fischer, Alvaro Negredo, Espinosa and Victor Valdes. All of these signings have the potential to outshine each other but the fact they have pulled off the lot, highlights the appeal of the Premier League at this point in time.
But having made these transfers and making one after the headlines, there will be an acute pressure on them to perform.
We look at three of their newly added players who are likely to determine whether their season would go north or plunge southwards.
An accomplished striker with an admirable presence in the penalty box, this is a signing which has the potential to be pivotal to the fortunes of Middlesbrough. Having started off with a bang in his first season at City, his form tailed off in the second half of the campaign before he fell out with Manuel Pellegrini and was shipped off to Valencia. He scored an impressive 23 goals in 49 games for the Etihad outfit and additionally provided 8 assists. Karanka will look to build the side around his marquee signing and the team will look up to him to make an instant impact with his Premier League experience.
Middlesbrough secured their return to top flight on the back of the best defensive record in the Championship having conceded the least number of goals. Valdes, who won the La Liga 6 times and the Champion League thrice along with the World Cup with Spain, recently became a free agent after a torrid time at Manchester United. Though he was popular amongst him team-mates, his public fallout with manager Louis Van Gaal, after he allegedly refused to train with the U-21 team, resulted in the player being shipped off to Standard Liège on loan last year. Valdes brings a tremendous amount of experience and undoubted pedigree. He will look to marshall the defence and bring in much-needed leadership at the back. And the keeper will be desperate to prove his critics wrong and understandably grasp the opportunity the Premier League status of the club intact.
MARTEN DE ROON
During the initial stages of the transfer window, Boro paid up £12m for Atalanta midfielder Marten De Roon. Aitor Karanka, who is known for his pragmatic and defensive approach, looked to add quality to his defensive midfield pivot. And he has certainly done so by snapping up this impressive former Serie A player. He will bring in solidity to their midfield with his tackling and his ability to intercept balls. The midfielder will look to adjust to life in England quickly and form a partnership with either Clayton or Leadbitter. He possesses admirable concentration and at 25 years of age, he has room to improve and play his best football for the Riversiders for years to come.