2016/17 Season Preview: Middlesbrough

Middlesbrough_FC_crest.svgMiddlesbrough are back in the Premier League after a seven-year absence and with strong additions in the summer transfer market, Aitor Karanka’s side could be one of the season’s surprise packages.

Manager: Aitor Karanka
Home ground: Riverside Stadium
Last season: 2nd in Championship
Best EPL Finish: 7th (2005)

 

Star Player

Jordan Rhodes moved to Middlesbrough for £9m in Januray image: skysports.com

Jordan Rhodes moved to Middlesbrough for £9m in January
image: skysports.com

He was chased by Premier League clubs in the past couple of season’s and now striker Jordan Rhodes has the chance to prove he can play with the big boys, as he looks to become one of England’s breakout players this season.

The 26-year-old made the switch to Boro in January and has been one of the Championship’s best strikers in the past few seasons scoring over 20 goals in three of his four seasons with Blackburn. He has been impressing in pre-season and will be looking for plenty more goals.

Together with new signing Alvaro Negredo, Boro fans will be hoping for plenty of goals at Middlesbrough this season but the Scottish man will be out to outshine the former Man City man and fire Aitor Karanka’s side to Premier League safety.

Key Transfers

IN

Viktor Fischer (Ajax – £3.8m), Bernardo Espinosa (Sporting Gijon – Free), Gaston Ramirez (Southampton – Free), Martin de Roon (Atalanta – £12m), Victor Valdes (Man United – Free), Antonio Barragan (Valencia – Undisclosed), Alvaro Negredo (Valencia – Season loan), Brad Guzan (Aston Villa – Free), Fabio DaSilva (Cardiff – £2m)

OUT

Rhys Williams (Perth Glory – Free), Jonathan Woodgate, Damia Abella (released)

One to Watch

Left-back George Friend was one of Middlesbrough’s star men last season in gaining promotion from the Championship and Friend will be hoping to make the jump up to the big time and continue his fine form for Boro.

George Friend moved to Boro from Doncaster in 2012 image: theworldgame.sbs.com.au

George Friend moved to Boro from Doncaster in 2012
image: theworldgame.sbs.com.au

He made 40 league appearances with some strong and consistent displays that saw the 28-year-old being named in the Championship team of the year for the second year running. Boro’s defence were really strong last year in gaining promotion with Friend being a key man on the left.

He has been one of the best in the Championship for the past few seasons but this is a whole different level and one I am sure won’t phase Friend. He will to be solid once again with well-time interceptions as well as runs down the left-wing to help Boro fend off relegation.

Best XI

Valdes

Barragan    Ayala    Gibson    Friend

Downing   Clayton   Leadbitter   Fischer

Rhodes   Negredo

Prediction: 14th

Middlesbrough return to the top-flgiht after an eight year absence image: theguardian.com

Middlesbrough return to the top-flight after an eight year absence
image: theguardian.com

Out of the three promoted sides, I think Middlesbrough at the best equipped to survive relegation this season and have made some impressive signings with the arrival of Negredo and Victor Valdes.

Aitor Karanka is also a very good manager and despite missing out on the Championship title last season, they are strong enough to survive the drop and with a few more top of the rate signings, they could even spring a big surprise and finish in the top ten.

They have a solid defence, Rhodes and Negredo are very good options up front but they may struggle in the centre of the pitch. I think a new central midfielder would help their cause but I think Boro have enough to stay away from a relegation fight and finish mid-table.

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