Last season it was well documented how poorly Boro fared in the transfer market, in the summer a lot of new players were brought into a tight-knit squad. Many claimed this may have upset the harmony of the squad when rumblings of discontent came out in the media later in the season.
A lot of the players brought in were simply not good enough or not a good fit for the position Aitor Karanka wished to play them in as the season went on.
The January window was an even bigger let down for Boro fans. It was clear what Boro needed in that window. Creativity and pace.
Instead what was brought in by Boro was a Championship striker, a striker that hadn’t played in about 2 years and a central midfielder that couldn’t get in Watford’s match day 25. Although I don’t think Gestede, Bamford or Guedioura are particularly bad players, they just weren’t what Boro needed. We were crying out for attacking midfielders and wingers.
Here are the four key areas where I think Garry Monk needs to go out and strengthen in the transfer market.
4. Centre back
Yes, even though Boro have been good for numbers at the back and defence is where Boro have been strong in recent years, Boro definitely need to bring in one or maybe two centre-backs this summer depending on departures.
Ben Gibson has been heavily linked with a move away to various Premier League clubs, and with the centre-back seemingly unsure of his future – as he’s mentioned a few times in interviews – it only seems smart for Boro to be looking at some centre-back options in the summer transfer window.
One that has been linked is Kyle Bartley who was at Leeds with Monk last season but is now back as Swansea.
Although I do like the look of Bartley, if he is going to play in a centre-back partnership with Daniel Ayala, I’d maybe want a quicker, ball-playing centre-half rather than Barkley who has similar attributes to Ayala.
Monk’s teams were very sound defensively at Swansea and Leeds so expect a heavy focus on deciding who he wants at the back for Boro next season
3. Right winger
The right-wing was a problem for Boro throughout the entirety of the last campaign.
Whether it was Cristhian Stuani, a player who added a goal threat but lacked the real pace or creativity it took to be a winger in the Premier League, or Adama Traore, who possessed electrifying pace but severely lacked a footballing brain in the final third.
Boro struggled to find a consistent right-winger who could provide goals and assists in order to help them survive in the Premier League.
The Teessiders now have the money to spend and the right-wing position is where I believe a good chunk of the budget needs to be spent.
So far there are yet to any real trusted links to wingers Boro could sign, but there are plenty of options in the Premier League and Championship that could be lured by Boro’s spending power, manager and ambition to be back in the Premier League at the first time of asking.
2. Attacking midfielder
Another problem area for Boro that desperately needs addressing is attacking midfield. Boro had a severe lack of creativity last season.
At the start of the season, it was thought that Gaston Ramirez would do a fairly decent job back in the Premier League having previously made appearances for both Southampton and briefly for Hull, but this didn’t turn out to be the case.
In the first half of the season the signs were promising but he struggled for real consistency and it was clear he needed more support from the wing. In the second half of the season, it went even further down hill.
Ramirez submitted a transfer request amid allegations around his personal life and interest from Leicester City and no attacking midfielders/wingers were brought in, during January.
Boro must spend big on a first team attacking midfielder who can provide goals and assists whilst dictating games with an ability to link up with the rest of the attacking midfield three.
There have been no strong links but again there is a number of players in England and abroad that will be interested by the prospect of joining Boro.
Could Monk even decide to take a look at the academy players? Harry Chapman has certainly made himself known following an England Under 20 World Cup win.
Boro currently have two strikers who are comfortably able to perform and score at this level in Bamford and Gestede, but Boro definitely need to bring in a striker as competition.
Lots of options is always good when challenging for promotion in the Championship and a top level striker would really help Boro score the goals to get them up.
There is a big gap left by the departure of Alvaro Negredo following his return to Valencia.
Monk seems to like a big powerful target man having them at Swansea and Leeds, and although Rudy Gestede fits that description, it’s not clear that he would be able to score the goals in order to take Boro up.
Britt Assombalonga has been heavily linked in the past week, a pricey option – one that would surely cost over £10m – but in my opinion, it would be a great buy for Boro that would give us a strong, pacey option up front that would be different to what Boro currently have in their ranks.