EPL Season Preview: Middlesbrough

Aitor Karanka

Coach: Aitor Karanka

2015/16 Finish: 2. Championship

2016/17 Preseason Ranking: 18

Sportify Rating: 1474

Stadium Capacity: 34,747 at Riverside Stadium

Departures: Damia Abella (released); Andre Bennett (released); Jonathan Burn (Kilmarnock); Luke Coddington (Huddersfield); Jordan Jones (Kilmarnock); Conor Ripley (Oldham); Rhys Williams (Perth Glory); Jonathan Woodgate (released)

Arrivals: Bernardo Espinosa (Sporting Gijon); Viktor Fischer (Ajax); Brad Guzan (Aston Villa); Jordan McGhee (Hearts, loan); Alvaro Negredo (Valencia); Marten de Roon (Atalanta); Victor Valdes (free)

The good: The back

Middlesbrough conceded a league best 31 goals last season in the Championship, and they’ll need to replicate that defensive record if they want to survive in England’s top division. Goalkeeper Dimitrios Konstantopoulos played all 46 league games with a consistent group in front of him. George Friend, Daniel Ayala, Ben Gibson and Emilio Nsue all started at least 32 games (Nsue sometimes played in the midfield). This year, Konstantopoulos will face competition from new arrival Victor Valdes, longtime Barcelona #1, and Nsue may be moved up the pitch (or to the bench) now that Spanish right back Antonio Barragan has signed from Valencia.

The bad: Scoring

Boro managed 63 league goals last campaign (7th in the Championship). The team was led by David Nugent who netted eight in his first season with Middlesbrough after leaving Leicester City, and Uruguayan duo Cristhian Stuani and Gaston Ramirez each chipped in with seven. They’ve worked to address this issue in the summer transfer window with the addition of Danish forward Viktor Fischer, former Manchester City and Valencia striker Alvaro Negredo, and a permanent deal for Ramirez, who was on loan last season, seems imminent.