With the 21/22 Championship season now at an end, we suddenly get into silly season as preparation for the following campaign gets underway.
As fan excitement peaks and the rumour mill rumbles, there are links that are sometimes so outlandish they can be funny.
This is the first of a series of four articles, with Birmingham City, Blackburn Rovers, Blackpool, Bristol City, Burnley and Cardiff City all covered in this edition.
The only information we know that is guaranteed at St. Andrew’s this summer is a further reduction in playing budget as question marks continue to arise surrounding the Blues’ ownership.
Working to even tighter restraints could be catastrophic for a team trying to stave off relegation once again after a turbulent few seasons.
Bolstering a defence that leaked 75 goals last season while adding creativity will be essential if Birmingham are to have any chance of staying in the Championship next season.
- Naby Sarr – (Unattached)
Sarr has played under Bowyer at Charlton previously and brings a much-needed aerial presence, as well as know-how of playing in a back three. Available on a free transfer, this is a signing that could work for everyone.
- Neil Taylor – (Unattached)
At 33, Taylor’s best years are behind him, but his experience could be vital to a team battling to stay in the Championship.
Defensively reliable, he could provide a much-needed balance to a team needing leaders in their side.
- Antony Evans – (Unattached)
Evans is currently at Bristol Rovers and has enjoyed a stellar campaign.
The 23-year-old was key for the Gasmen in their return to League One, scoring ten and assisting 12 in 35 league appearances, predominantly playing as a number ten.
With a new contract yet to be signed, Bowyer should move quick.
Rovers of course need a new manager to replace the outgoing Tony Mowbray, after his five-year stay at Ewood Park ended at the climax of last season.
Understanding who to bring in as potential signings is a tricky task given the fact that Mowbray’s successor nor Rovers’ future style of play has yet been decided.
However, the focus area has to be replacing three big departures (or potential departures) in Darragh Lenihan, Joe Rothwell and Ben Brereton-Diaz.
- Ryan Hardie – (Plymouth Argyle)
Hardie is a similar player to both Adam Armstrong and Brereton-Diaz as he likes the ball at his feet and playing on the shoulder.
With 16 goals in 33 appearances for Plymouth Argyle this season, he’s clearly a player that’s improving and with just 12 months left on his contract, could be available for the right fee.
- Andy Rinomhota – (Unattached)
A typical box-to-box player, Rinomhota will cover the energy left behind by Rothwell. He will happily get the dirty work done, allowing the likes of Tyrhys Dolan, Bradley Dack and John Buckley to thrive creatively.
- James Chester – (Unattached)
With a fit Daniel Ayala, Scott Wharton and Hayden Carter, defensively, Rovers are in a decent enough position.
Adding the experience of James Chester could be hugely beneficial in the long run of the season, while also filling the leadership void Lenihan would leave.
Neil Critchley’s surprise exit to take up the Assistant Manager position at Aston Villa is a huge bombshell and has cleared rocked the club.
After a season of progress and a steady mid-table finish, his departure could plunge Blackpool into a relegation battle.
However, there’s enough quality in this side to avoid a drop into League One, and adding to it will only enhance their chances.
- Ollie Norburn – (Unattached)
Norburn posted impressive stats for Peterborough last season in pressing and winning possession. Putting him into a midfield that relies on quick turnovers in possession will mean more counter attacking opportunities.
- Chey Dunkley – (Unattached)
It was a surprise to see Dunkley released by Sheffield Wednesday but his experience and aerial presence could be useful alongside Marvin Ekpiteta.
In addition, having a consistent defensive partner for Ekpiteta will be essential in avoiding the dreaded second season syndrome.
- Josh Murphy – (Unattached)
Murphy has endured a difficult few seasons since his big money move to Cardiff. A poor loan spell at Preston only added to that.
Bloomfield Road could be the destination for the winger to get his career back on track, a club that has allowed the likes of Josh Bowler and Keshi Anderson to thrive.
The Robins have moved quickly to add Mark Sykes and Kal Naismith to their side, but it still feels short of quality in areas.
Despite a 17th-placed finish last season, their goalscoring haul was bettered only by the top six and a couple more tweaks could lift Nigel Pearson’s outfit further up the division.
It’s a big summer for a side who could be a surprise contender for the play-offs next season if they get this transfer window right.
- Kane Wilson – (Unattached)
Wilson has been linked with Bristol City all summer and would really add a different dimension to their attack if he joined.
14 assists last season for a Forest Green Rovers side who won League Two shows that he could be useful weapon in Pearson’s armory.
- Joe Ralls – (Unattached)
Bristol City need more in midfield and Ralls’ creativity, energy and defensive cover is something the Robins lacked last season.
Not only that, is effective when it comes to taking set pieces which will add to an already good attack.
- Elliott Moore – Unattached)
Moore could be the next Oxford United defender to head to Ashton Gate after Rob Atkinson.
It’s clear that Pearson needs defenders with Moore being a possible target after another impressive season in League One.
It could easily be a dumpster fire season for the Clarets.
An exodus of huge players, loan repayments and no manager at the time of writing, a whole article could be dedicated to Burnley.
It’s clear they need at least five players next season to be a competitive play-off chasing side next season, and a manager will help as well.
- Darragh Lenihan – (Unattached)
Controversial but Lenihan being local, available on a free and moving to a side that will be able to meet his financial needs, he could be swayed.
The Ireland international was one of the most consistent defenders in the Championship last season and has the attributes to replace the outgoing James Tarkowski and Ben Mee.
- Michal Helik – (Barnsley)
The Poland international will most likely leave Barnsley to keep his World cup hopes alive.
Statistically one of the top performing defenders last season, he will fill a huge void left by James Tarkowski.
Depending on who Burnley appoint, they have the players to get the best out of Lyndon Dykes.
A player who thrives on crosses and works hard for his side could easily thrive alongside Ashley Barnes and Jay Rodriguez.
Cardiff have been getting their business done early with Ebou Adams, Jak Alnwick, Jamilu Collins and Ollie Tanner.
But there’s still plenty of work that needs to be done, with the side still short on experienced forwards and centre backs.
- Gareth Bale – (Unattached)
The former Southampton full-back is available as a free agent after his contract ran out with a certain side in Spain.
A haul of five Champions League titles, three La Liga trophies and 106 goals in 258 games for Los Blancos is not to be sniffed at all – Max Watters and James Collins would no doubt benefit from his competition…
Wales have now qualified for the 2022 World Cup and an unemployed Bale will need games – bring him home, Steve Morison, bring him home.
- Colby Bishop – (Accrington Stanley)
The Accrington Stanley forward has been consistent in the last two season, scoring 23 in 84.
A physical forward with 12 months left on his contract is a good, low-cost, low-risk replacement for the outgoing Jordan Hugill.
- Marcus Harness – (Portsmouth)
Harness will continue to be linked with many clubs as has been the case since the start of the 21/22 season.
With 18 goal contributions in 40 games coupled with his versatility, moving for Harness could add different dimension for the Bluebirds this season.
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