As the partying and elation surrounding Middlesbrough’s automatic promotion to the Premier League dies down, it will be replaced with nervous apprehension about their return to the top flight after a six-year absence. The summer transfer window will be crucial, as Aitor Karanka looks to bolster his squad and ensure Premier League survival. The signing of Viktor Fischer could be an early sign that the club are ready to make the right moves in the transfer market.
Next season’s relegation battle could be decided by which clubs flesh out their squads with the shrewdest signings. The new TV deal will provide all the clubs with a healthy amount to spend on players, but history shows that it’s not always the clubs splashing all the cash that reap the rewards. Indeed, many of the clubs that lingered towards the wrong end of the table last season may be hoping to emulate Leicester City’s transfer policy, one in which they managed to pick up star players on the cheap who are now worth millions.
The newly-promoted teams tend to start the pre-season betting as the likeliest contenders for the drop. However, as Bournemouth and Watford proved last season, with a bit of fighting spirit and some good signings in the summer, it is possible for teams fresh from the Championship to prosper. As of early June, the relegation odds for Middlesbrough are 13/10 with 32red. Burnley are at odds of 4/5 for the drop with Betway, and Bwin have Hull at 5/6 to go down. These odds could change considerably over the course of the summer, though, as each of the teams look to make survival ensuring bids in the window.
The first signing for Middlesbrough is Fischer, a Danish attacking midfielder from Ajax. He has mainly been deployed as a winger throughout his career, but he has shown the versatility to play in any of the attacking positions. Karanka will be hoping that the player can bring about competition for places in his squad from the outset.
Players coming to England’s top flight from the Eredivisie have been a bit hit or miss over recent years, as the step-up in quality is drastic. Memphis Depay is a prime example of someone who struggled with the transition. Middlesbrough fans will be hoping that Fischer can replicate the success of his former teammate, Christian Eriksen, a player who has flourished for Tottenham Hotspur in the past two seasons after taking some time to settle in his first campaign for the club. The talented playmaker has become a key component of a highly competent Spurs outfit who are at odds of 15/2 with 32red and Unibet to go all the way and lift the title next time out.
Karanka will be looking at Fischer as a key figure for the long term, as he is only 21 years old with a bright future ahead of him. However, he will also be hoping that the £3.8million signing will be able to make an impact straight away. If his performance for his country against Bulgaria was anything to go by, then there should be no cause for concern. He assisted in all four goals for Denmark in the 4-0 annihilation, and looks to be discovering form just in time for his move.
Fischer was earmarked as a player with excellent potential from a young age. At 14 years old he signed for FC Midtjylland, and two years later got a call up from Ajax. He has also played at every level for his country from under-16 upwards. Unfortunately, his career hit a wall in 2014 when he suffered from a serious hamstring injury that forced him to the side-lines for nearly a year. This was a tragic time for the player, who had been developing brilliantly prior to the incident, and had even attracted interest from Bayern Munich and Manchester United. After returning from injury, he never managed to find the same form for the club and spent a lot of time on the bench.
Now, Fischer says he is ready to prove himself again. It is time for a fresh challenge, and to show that he is fully recovered from the devastating injury from the past. He could turn out to be an exceptionally clever signing, and if Middlesbrough manage to bag a few more strong players on the cheap they could stand themselves in good stead for the season ahead.