Talking Transfers: Jewels in a Hot Climate
As the curtain is drawn on a difficult year, focus quickly shifts to new beginnings in 2021 - and what better way to start than with a transfer window?
A few weeks back Neil Warnock whet the conspiracists' appetite with his comment about targeting a 'jewel in a hot climate', so I've honed in on those comments because I am one of those conspiracists.
So to channel Ben Strickland, I've compiled a list of potential and somewhat doable deals for the Boro in January.
Age: 23 | Position: Striker/Winger | Club: LDU Quito
A player currently plying his trade in the Ecuadorian first division, Muñoz's performances for LDU Quito earned him a call-up to the national team in November of this year.
His versatility across the front line makes him a valuable option for Los Albos, but it's the versatility within his attributes that makes him a particularly impressive talent.
For all the talk that we've had on the podcast around the lack of movement from Boro's forwards, Muñoz certainly doesn't hold that same weakness.
In fact, it's one of his biggest strengths.
His ability to spot an opening to pull defenders out of position and make a run ahead of a ball over the top is a key theme in the goals that he's scored.
The forward is quick, agile, skilful, can play off a target man or be deployed in an inside forward role.
Additionally, he's also adept at tracking back and doing the defensive work - something Neil Warnock is big on.
Target Scouting published an interesting write-up about the blonde locked livewire from his game against River Plate in October.
He was very active in transition from defence to attack and spotted the right moments to get forward and open up passing lanes for his teammates to play to. He spotted space well both in the final third and near the halfway line.
Read their full thoughts here.
Age: 22 | Position: Attacking Midfield | Club: Envigado
When you hear of a South American talent, your mind immediately sticks to the 'technically brilliant' tag, right? Well that's what you get with Guzmán.
An out-and-out number 10, he possesses fantastic nous with the ball at his feet and has an eye for the spectacular.
With that, of course, comes a prominent weakness: the habit of doing too much. This can be argued as one of his downfalls, but all it takes is expert coaching to rein it in.
The Colombian is strong at breaking defensive lines with his excellent passing ability, so long as movements are made in behind.
Similar to Muñoz, Guzmán's movement is a key strength. As an outlet in the transition, the ability to pick up pockets of space is crucial to creating attacking opportunities, and this is what the 22-year-old does very well.
His movement off the ball is highly impressive and he knows how to manipulate his opponents in order to gain himself space in the right areas for his side and showing his advanced level of football intelligence and tactical awareness for both his own side and the opposition.
His creativity is reaping rewards so far this season, as he has 5 goals and 4 assists, with an average of 1.7 key passes per game.
However, and this is a big negative, the playmaker is not one to track back and do defensive work out of possession.
We've seen already this season with Patrick Roberts that a big part of Neil Warnock team is to be compact and stick with the man marking policy.
Still though, Guzmán is a threat in the final third; creative, influential, agile, technically strong and pretty decent in front of goal too.
Age: 25 | Position: Left-back | Club: PAOK
Perhaps the biggest reach on this list given that Giannoulis was linked with a £4million move to the Premier League - albeit with Newcastle - it's still worth mentioning the 25-year-old.
With Bola and Coulson Boro's options at left full-back (assuming Johnson is now seen as a left winger), there is a potential vacancy opening up there.
I will also throw my opinion into the equation here and say I can see Coulson leaving the club either in January or in the summer, so I firmly believe we need reinforcements there.
Giannoulis is a fantastic option for a team that alternates between a four at the back formation, and a set-up that requires wing backs - something Boro have done this season.
He's good defensively, but his main strengths lie in attack. His delivery from wide areas is superb, often linking with Akpom when Boro's number 10 was playing in Greece.
Because of his speed, he's often available for a lay-off on the overlap, and that has been a theme from Boro of late with Marvin Johnson.
That's not to mean he's defensively weak though. He averages 2.3 interceptions per game and 1.3 tackles per game.
Given the Boro scout's recent trip over to the Super League to keep tabs on Chuba, they'll have definitely noticed the talent of Giannoulis.
Whether he's too good for the Championship is another question. Sometimes players are linked with top flight clubs, but nothing materialises and you soon see them playing in a division slightly below.