Alvaro Negredo
Negredo became Boro's highest-profile signing this summer Getty

Middlesbrough's dressing room will have a very Spanish feel to it next season. Victor Valdes, Bernardo Espinosa and Antonio Barragan all represent experienced options for the newly promoted club while the return of Alvaro Negredo to these shores is one of the most intriguing moves of the summer.

Not too long ago, the Danish midfielder Viktor Fischer was regarded as one of Europe's brightest young talents. Crushing injury setbacks halted that rise and as a result, the 22-year-old's introduction to English football could be a slow one. His potential is nevertheless an exciting option for Aitor Karanka.

Gaston Ramirez is deserving of another crack at the top flight having proved integral to Boro's promotion bid last season, while £12m signing Marten de Roon is likely to come straight into midfield following his switch from Italian club Atalanta.

Keeper Brad Guzan has also joined from Villa and will likely play understudy to Valdes. According to Transfermarkt, Boro's spending so far amounts to less than £20m. At a glance, it looks very good business.

Last season

Championship: Second place

FA Cup: Third round

League Cup – Quarter-final

Top scorer – Cristhian Stuani (11)

Manager – Aitor Karanka

Karanka's relationship with his senior players looked frayed at best at the end of last season. The former Real Madrid assistant was memorably sent home after a row with his team that temporarily rocked their promotion bid, but the Spaniard later insisted he never wanted to leave Teesside. Integrating so many new players into a team will be his first big test, keeping them all in harmony will be another.

Key player – Alvaro Negredo

Remember the Beast's devastating run that saw him score 19 goals in 20 appearances for Manchester City? The dip in form that followed was a mystery – after notching twice against West Ham in January, he never scored for City again. Manuel Pellegrini suggested the Spain international was homesick. Negredo believed the Chilean coach had lost faith in him. A tepid spell at Valencia saw his stock fall further but, at 30, he has a wonderful chance to re-ignite his career back in the Premier League.


As long as Boro avoid a repeat of last season's temporary unrest, things look promising. Of the three promoted clubs, they have done comfortably the best business, with Burnley and Hull City's lack of activity making them immediate favourites to go back down. In fact, Boro's business has been more impressive than most clubs who finished in the bottom 10 last season.

IBTimes UK prediction – 13th

Dressing room drama notwithstanding, Middlesbrough look like a team equipped to make their return to the Premier League a lasting one.