Who are Middlesbrough's strongest attacking trio?

Boro's first Premier League transfer window since 2009 has now closed, and there has been many changes on Teesside. One area which has seen alterations is the 'three' in Karanka's preffered 4231 formation, but who should slot into those positions?

Who are Middlesbrough's strongest attacking trio?
Gaston Ramirez celebrates with his attacking midfield partners Stuani and new Aston Villa man Adomah | Photo: Reuters

Almost as soon as Aitor Karanka walked through the doors at Rockliffe Hall, he began to implement his strategy and philosophy.

He expects the players to give 100 per cent on the field and to conduct themselves properly. But also the backroom staff have seen the affects of the Spaniard's strive for perfection.

It has been documented that he has sent back scout reports with spelling mistakes and he is big on punctuality.

But the main philosophy he brought to Middlesbrough was the formation. When he joined, all big clubs were - and still are - playing the 4231 formation and he implemented this on Teesside.

Karanka has been strengthening his attacking midfielders throughout his time in charge at Boro and this window was no different.

Shake up on Teesside

At the start of the 2015/16 Championship season, Middlesbrough had Adam Reach, Albert Adomah and new signing Stewart Downing all supporting Kike Garcia in attack.

This started to change, however, as the signing of Cristhian Stuani saw Reach fall down the pecking order. Stuani has a successful start to the season, but Aitor Karanka still felt the need to add in the January window.

That is when Gaston Ramirez joined the side. The Uruguayan has struggled at other clubs, but shone at the Riverside scoring 6 times in 3 months.

As Ramirez returned to parent club Southampton, before being released, Boro fans waited with baited breath to see what Karanka would do with the side.

A signing out of the blue in the form of Viktor Fischer from Ajax excited the fans, and after over a month of chasing, Ramirez returned to Middlesbrough on a free transfer.

New signing Viktor Fischer fights against the Fulham defense in Boro's 2-1 defeat in the EFL | Photo: Getty
New signing Viktor Fischer fights against the Fulham defense in Boro's 2-1 defeat in the EFL | Photo: Getty

Going into the season, Karanka had fit midfielders in Adomah, Stuani, Ramirez, Downing and Fischer.

A contract dispute, however, saw Albert Adomah leave on transfer deadline day, replaced by his would-be-teammate Adama Traore.

Where do Boro stand now?

Along with the loss of Adomah, Middlesbrough sold Adam Reach to Sheffield Wednesday for £5 million, as well as Mustapha Carayol going to Nottingham Forest.

Aitor Karanka now has to decide who to play in his next Premier League match against Crystal Palace on September 10th.

Adama Traore, despite his recent move from Aston Villa, is unlikely to be thrown into the mix. Karanka makes sure that new signings have time to bed in and get to know their teammates, before making their debut. This highlights the importance of getting Boro's transfer business done early.

Cristhian Stuani scores his first of two goals on his Premier League debut against Sunderland | Photo: Getty
Cristhian Stuani scores his first of two goals on his Premier League debut against Sunderland | Photo: Getty

Cristhian Stuani is currently Middlesbrough's top scorer following his brace on Wearside. He looks likely to start against the Eagles and Boro's head coach will hope he can provide more of a spark than was produced against West Brom.

One man who looks to be a guarenteed starter is Gaston Ramirez. The former Hull City loanee has become a fan favourite after impressing on loan, and cancelling his pre-contract agreement with Penarol to join the North East outfit. Ramirez looks to have nailed down the number 10 spot, but Boro's main source of creativity comes through him, and he will need to be firing in future matches.

Stewart Downing looks likely to start over Viktor Fischer for the forseeable future. While Fischer's pace and power is a great asset, Karanka will want him to be good defensively also. Luckily the Dane has plenty of time to develop and will feature for Middlesbrough this season.