This article's focus is on the Sky Bet Championship transfers as we edge closer to the start of the new season. Pre-season training is now well underway as those key preparations continue. A few of my other articles have focused on predictions ahead of the new season.
Of course, it could be argued that this article is along a similar vein to that. However, this is not so much a prediction on teams that might do well – but instead a look at what transfers look to be good deals in theory. As always, time will tell how exact my information is – but I’m looking forward to a lively debate.
So, let’s get stuck into the choices…
1. John Terry (Aston Villa)
John Terry is a hugely experienced defender with over 700 career appearances to his name as well as winning 78 caps for England. As defenders go, he also has a decent goalscoring record with 67 career strikes to his name.
Aston Villa are a massively backed football club at Championship level with almost unlimited funds to work with. Terry may have signed for them on a free transfer but his wages won’t have come cheap. It can also be argued that Villa were one of very few clubs playing at this level that could have afforded the deal.
In a previous article, I have tipped Villa to have a good season and the addition of Terry certainly adds to that. Steve Bruce is certainly someone that likes to build from the back and you’d expect them to be a good defensive side next season. The only slight concern is how well the player, at 36, will stand up to the aggression of the league – but one suspects that he will be able to cope.
2. Marc Roberts (Birmingham City)
Birmingham City are a tough team to evaluate, as they started last season so strongly under Gary Rowett. In fact, before he was the sacked the club were positioned just outside the play-offs. Things quickly changed in the second half of the season under Zola, and the club only just survived relegation. Veteran manager Harry Redknapp is now in charge and it’s unknown which side of the club we will see in the new season.
Redknapp is certainly someone with vast experience and will want his side to be making a challenge for the play-offs at the very least. The early indications this summer suggest that he will be backed to some extent. One player they have signed is Marc Roberts and the former Barnsley captain looks like a very good addition.
The player is 26 years old and has a good size to him. In addition, the defender was a leading performer in the Championship last season with an average rating of 7.54. Roberts’ leading quality is his ability to clear the ball; his 12.4 clearances per game was the second-best record in the league last season.
3. Ruben Neves (Wolves)
There is no doubt that the signing of Ruben Neves has certainly got Wolves fans excited. The Portuguese midfielder has signed for the club from Porto for a fee in the region of £15m. As mentioned in the content for John Terry, there are some well-backed clubs willing to splash the cash in the Championship.
However, we saw last season that it may not be the clubs that spend the most money that will be promoted and I’m expecting a season of struggle for them. However, it’s certainly clear that Neves will be an exciting addition to the league for next season. The player wasn’t getting regular game time at Porto – but at just 20 years old – he certainly has a big future ahead of him.
The Portuguese player can be used as a defensive midfielder or as a regular central midfielder. Neves has also received his fair share of international recognition, which includes winning two caps for Portugal. From a wider point of view, it’s great to see such talented players competing in the Championship, which all adds to the worldwide appeal of the league.
4. Jonny Howson (Middlesbrough)
Jonny Howson is an established player at Championship level following his spells with previous clubs Leeds and Norwich City; he has also had some experience in the Premier League and offers various qualities. The player can play in several different central midfield roles – but it’s his attacking skills that are his most valuable assets.
Last season with Norwich, he provided consistent form such as an average rating of 6.96, six goals and seven assists. Howson’s desire to return to the north of England led to his move to Middlesbrough. Some sources have suggested the fee is as high as £6m and the player is now 29.
Garry Monk has gone in as the new manager of Middlesbrough, and they are certainly a club that I’m tipping to be involved in the top six next season. Howson will certainly prove to be a good addition and someone Monk can use in a number of different ways. Norwich City will be sad to have lost a talented player but will know it gives them the opportunity to reduce the average age of their squad.
5. Vurnon Anita (Leeds United)
Vurnon Anita is certainly a well-established player following spells with his previous clubs Ajax and Newcastle United. Leeds United only narrowly missed out on a place in the play-offs last season and will be looking for improvement in the new campaign. Clearly, with a new manager in charge, it’s difficult to know how much can be read into what occurred last season.
Anita sounds like a good signing, in theory, with over 300 career appearances as well as winning four caps for his country. The Dutchman was certainly part of the Newcastle team that won this league – but perhaps not one of their standout players. In terms of his position, he played most of his games last season at right back – but can also play on the right wing or as a defensive midfielder.
Leeds will certainly feel that if he can perform in the Championship next season then they have a player with Premier League experience as well. It’s clear that the deal won’t have been cheap on wages, and perhaps demonstrates Leeds’ desire to get back to the Premier League; fans will certainly be hoping that Anita proves to be a quality addition during the coming season.
6. Mario Vrancic (Norwich City)
Norwich City’s squad is now going through a sea of change, some key players have already left and more may follow. However, that is all necessary adjustment as the club look to improve their fortunes for the new season. Clearly, missing out on the play-offs last year was a huge disappointment to everyone involved.
Going forward, the club needs fresh players and they have added five signings already. One of those newbies is Bosnia midfielder Mario Vrancic. The suggestion seems to be that he has come in to replace the departing Graham Dorrans. There is an awful lot to like about Vrancic. He is 28 years old and gained a lot of experience through playing for various teams in Germany.
He doesn’t have experience of the Championship – but new coach Daniel Farke obviously feels he has the mentality to handle it. The player managed an average rating 0f 6.94 and he also executed 2.3 key passes per game, which was one of the best records in the Bundesliga. I’m tipping Norwich to be one of the best possession teams in the Championship next season and Vrancic could well play a big part in that.
This completes the content section of this article on Championship transfers. Let me know if you want to see more transfer geared content from me in the future. Of course, keep an eye on my profile page for Championship list-style articles coming very soon.
For this article, it will certainly be interesting to see if all of these players prove to be good signings or not. As always, there may well be others that haven’t made this list that perform better – so if I missed anyone, please let me know.