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Why Middlesbrough got it right this summer

Thursday 8th September 2016
A return to the Premier League has been a long time coming for Middlesbrough. The North-East side faced seven long seasons in England's second tier, experiencing highs, lows, and near-misses along the way.

The fact Middlesbrough are undefeated in their first three games demonstrates the forward steps the club has taken to not only regain their place amongst the country's elite, but their determination to stay there.

Aitor Karanka's side are grinding out priceless results and thanks to a summer of intricate recruitment, having signed some of Europe's best that have flown under the radar or fallen from grace.
Alvaro Negredo may be best known to fans of the Premier League for his single season stint at Manchester City in 2013/2014, where he won the league title and scored 23 goals in 48 games. Most would agree that return is more than respectable, but the fact that all of these goals came before mid-season saw the club lose confidence in Negredo, who moved on to Valencia.

His time at the Mestallia was not a considered a success thanks in part to a falling out with manager Nuno Espírito Santo, but Negredo's record still speaks for itself with 208 goals in 483 games.

Middlesbrough's loan move for the Spaniard made sense, a club where the striker can regularly start and become a focal point of attack. A goal on his debut and a winning-assist against Sunderland has already repaid part the faith the club have in signing him.

Negredo's move is just one of several that will serve Middlesbrough well in the coming season.

Tucked in behind him, £3.8m Viktor Fischer is hoping to fulfil his potential after a promising start to his career was blighted by injuries. The winger is still only 22-years-old and though he has been benched in his first four games, making only one appearance, there is no doubt of his ability should he click into gear.

Fischer is joined by the equally talented Gaston Ramirez, who joined on a free transfer this summer following a successful loan spell last season. The Uruguayan was a gamble after playing only five games in nine months, but his individual ability to dictate the tempo of the game and allow his teammates an extra yard of space proved the difference between Premier League and Championship football for Middlesbrough.

Marten De Roon, the £12m midfielder from Atalanta was considered one of the most notorious tacklers in Serie A with 122 completed last year, the best in the league. Should he stay fit, De Roon will provide effective cover in front of defence that now includes Calum Chambers .
Chambers season long loan from Arsenal will allow the 21-year-old to develop, whilst tighten a Boro defence that's in need of Premier League quality. The 21-year-old will stand in front of experienced goalkeeper Brad Guzan who joined for free from Aston Villa.

These promising transfers all add up to a successful window for Middlesbrough. The amount of money spent has not been vast in comparison to the gluttony of some other Premier League sides and looks to have paid dividends with 5 points already in the bag.

With Crystal Palace set to travel to The Riverside this Saturday, it's another opportunity to pick up three more points against a side struggling for consistency and once again highlight that Middlesbrough are here to stay as a top flight club.
John Howell

A graduate of Media & Cultural Studies from the University of West of England, I am a 26-year-old sports fanatic based in Bristol and an avid supporter of Newcastle United. I have written for several sites before joining It's Round and It's White and although I write primarily on the subject of football, you can catch me playing rugby on the weekends, no pun intended.

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