Middlesbrough may not have complete their return to the Premier League in the most convincing of fashion after the final day win over Brighton and Hove Albion, but they possess a squad already capable of competing in the top flight. Aitor Karanka has a decent reputation both from his days under Jose Mourinho at Real Madrid and from his brief spell in English football, and that could prove crucial in drafting in players on temporary deals.
Newly-promoted clubs are often tempted to bring in a raft of new players [Bournemouth, Norwich City and Watford signed 34 between them last summer] but Boro would be ill-advised to follow that blueprint. Minor tinkering, like the shrewd signing of Viktor Fischer from Ajax, might be a policy better adopted by the north east club.
Business so far
The signing of Fischer is not only eye catching due to the lack of major signings made by Premier League clubs before the summer's European Championships, but because the 21-year-old with a stellar reputation from the Ajax academy. Out of the exit door meanwhile have gone six players including Jonathan Woodgate for a second time after spell which included 57 appearances in four years. Australian Rhys Williams has gone back to his homeland with Perth Glory.
What they need
Despite splashing out on Jordan Rhodes during the January transfer window and having Cristian Stuani and David Nugent in reserve, it was goals which the Riverside stadium club struggled with last term. Karanka's side were the lowest scorers in the top six and on the 13 occasions they failed to find the net they lost on eight occasions.
Whether chairman Steve Gibson will be willing to allow Middlesbrough's share of the new £5.14bn television deal to again be splurged on a striker is yet to be seen, given that Rhodes impact saw him let on the bench towards the end of last season. Other areas that might be worth addressing may be in goal where an experienced campaigner at Premier League level might be required. Perhaps a favour from former colleague Mourinho may be in the offing?
Who could join
After leaving Southampton following the end of his contract and after a successful loan spell last term, Gaston Ramirez is heavily linked with making a permanent move to Middlesbrough. Other rumours are few and far between but Boro are reportedly, according to The Daily Mail, among the front-runners to sign £16m-rated Laurent Depoitre from Gent. Tottenham, Leicester, Southampton, Crystal Palace and West Brom will be their competitors.
Who could leave
The benefit of winning promotion from the Championship is it is rare that rival clubs will snoop around for your best players. Middlesbrough are yet to receive any interest in members of their squad, and having allow six players to depart already it would be a surprised to see too many others join them. Mustapha Carayol and Adam Clayton could yet take a step down.
What the manager has said
With Karanka having been consumed by preparing the club for the final game against Brighton, he has not been drawn on the club's transfer activity. Owner Gibson has however and have admits they have already drawn up a list of targets.
"A lot of the work has been done in terms of recruitment for next season and thankfully we can press ahead with plan A," Gibson said. "We know our targets and we can start that process. "We are a club with no debt, we own the stadium and we own the training ground. So there will be a small investment in that, but other than that every penny we've got will be to improve the squad."