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MIDDLESBROUGH: Has Karanka assembled a squad capable of beating the drop?

After winning promotion from the Championship last season, Middlesbrough's main aim is to avoid relegation at the first attempt.

Aitor Karanka has mainly tapped into the Spanish market to bring in new additions which have totalled 12 - the highest in this summer's Premier League transfer window.

Boro have started the season solidly and new signings have been at the forefront of that.

With these new players in tow, can they avoid the drop and cause some shocks this season?


Middlesbrough - 2016/17

Key signings


Marten de Roon - from Atlanta for £12m

De Roon is a Dutch midfielder brought in from Serie A side Atlanta.

The 25-year-old moved to Italy from Heerenveen in the summer of 2015 and made 36 league appearances as Atalanta finished 13th.

He has already made his debut for the Teesside club on the opening day of the season in their 1-1 draw against Stoke City.

Will keep things ticking in the centre of the pitch when he returns from a hamstring injury.


Victor Valdes - from Manchester United for free

After languishing inside the Manchester United dressing room for all of last season, Valdes has been brought in by Karanka in a bid to resurrect his career.

The Spanish goalkeeper was signed to be Boro's first-choice keeper and it is some coup by the club to get him for nothing, especially as he has been signed by a former Real Madrid assistant.

The ex-Barcelona and Spain stalwart has won everything there is to win including six La Liga titles, three Champions League medals, two European Championships and a World Cup.

He will bring vital experience to what is a largely inexperienced squad at Premier League level.


Alvaro Negredo - from Valencia on loan

Negredo has returned to the Premier League after his hit and miss, yet surprisingly prolific, spell at Manchester City in 2013/14.

Having returned to La Liga when signing for Valencia in 2015 but netted just fives times in a poor league campaign - a vast contrast to the 25 he scored for Sevilla in the 2012/13 season.

Negredo did manage 12 goals in total last season which is not a bad return, although five were in the Copa del Rey.

The 31-year-old will be hoping to rediscover his goalscoring touch at the Riverside and to score more than the nine he got during City's title winning campaign in 2014 will be a target.

That campaign, Negredo totalled 23 goals in 49 outings all competitions for City which are strong numbers. Has already tallied for Boro.


Brad Guzan - from Aston Villa for free

Assured gloveman signed to strengthen Boro's goalkeeping stocks and has already been useful by stepping in for the injured Valdes.

The USA international has 144 games of Premier League experience under his belt and has already kept a clean sheet for Karanka's side.

Guzan, 31, could be Middlesbrough's number one ahead of Valdes and Dimitrios Konstantopoulos if he can continue the form he showed in the scoreless draw with West Bromwich Albion.


Calum Chambers - from Arsenal on loan

Chambers has struggled to find a regular starting slot at right-back since his move to Arsenal from Southampton in 2014, and has therefore gone on loan to Boro in search of regular football.

The 21-year-old will also be hoping to catch the eye of new England boss Sam Allardyce during his time at the Riverside.

A versatile defender, Chambers can also operate at centre-back and may be deployed in either position by Karanka throughout the course of the season.


Gaston Ramirez - from Southampton for free

Middlesbrough managed to lure the Uruguayan back to the Riverside Stadium after he played a key role in last season's promotion.

Boro landed 25-year-old Ramirez on a free from Southampton after he scored seven goals and provided four assists in the Championship.

A quality addition for nothing who seems to thrive on Teesside.


Viktor Fischer - from Ajax for around £4m

Fischer arrives in the north east after impressing in Holland over the past few years.

The 22-year-old was a prime mover for Ajax last season, scoring eight goals as a winger, who can operate more centrally or even on the right if called upon to do so.

Already has 11 caps and three goals for Denmark and has been likened to Tottenham Hotspur star Christian Eriksen.

Will be given more chances as the campaign progresses.


Adama Traore - from Aston Villa for undisclosed fee

A fiercely talented 20-year-old winger, Traore was restricted to just 12 appearances for Aston Villa last season due to ankle and foot injuries.

The Spaniard arrived in England with fairly big wraps after coming through the Barcelona academy but was unable to show his true potential on the West Midlands.

Was determined to get a move back to the Premier League and now has the chance to put his best foot forward under fellow countryman Karanka.


Fabio da Silva - from Cardiff City for £2m

The former Manchester United full-back has returned to the top flight mainly as a depth player.

Fabio will battle it out with George Friend for a spot at left-back but his versatility may see Karanka call on him on the right side of defence if required.

Will provide a good back-up option for Friend, as well as providing cover for Emilio Nsue, Antonio Barragan and Chambers.


Other signings


Antonio Barragan - from Valencia for £3m

Another Spanish addition Baragan is an experienced defender signed from Valencia for around £3m.

The 29-year-old has vast experience having spent five years at the Mestalla before moving to the Riverside this summer.

He is an attacking-minded defender and is expected to compete against Chambers for the starting birth at right-back.


Bernardo Espinosa - from Sporting Gijon for free

Colombian defender who has been signed to provide depth at the back.

Central defender Espinosa, 27, has played 42 times in La Liga and tallied close to 170 senior appearances.

Will be used to deputise for Ben Gibson, Daniel Ayala and perhaps even Chambers.


Overall

Middlesbrough's major loss is Albert Adomah who was sold to Championship club Aston Villa for £15million.

Despite the sizeable transfer fee the club has landed, he will be missed as his pace up front and crossing were a considerable asset to their promotion-winning campaign last term.

They have also sold fellow winger Adam Reach to Sheffield Wednesday but have snapped up Traore and Fischer who are both capable of playing in wide positions.

Karanka has made some shrewd signings in the summer window and has added experience with the likes of Negredo, Valdes, Guzan and Ramirez.

With these such players in the ranks, Boro are well-equipped to avoid the drop.


Tribal's Transfer Rating:
8.5/10

Joe Baker
About the author

Joe Baker

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