Middlesbrough were installed as favourites for Championship promotion over the summer, but haven’t quite made the start many were expecting.
The North East outfit were relegated from the Premier League last season but have bought well during the close season in a bid for an immediate return, with the likes of Britt Assombalonga, Ashley Fletcher, and Martin Braithwaite all moving to the Riverside Stadium, as did former Leeds boss Garry Monk.
And that led to many tipping Boro for the title this season and, although there is a long way to go, they haven’t quite made the start many expected, with Monk’s men winning two and losing two of their first five games to sit ninth in the division.
Yet with still just over a day to go in the transfer window, more deals could take place at the Riverside Stadium, although one man who doesn’t appear to be leaving the club this summer is winger Adama Traore.
The 21-year-old only signed for the club last year but showed glimpses of brilliance in the top-flight last term, albeit only had one assist to show for his efforts.
And it looked like he would be heading for France and Ligue 1 side Lille before Thursday’s deadline, with the French club reportedly launching a bid for the Spaniard, yet recent reports suggest that Boro will not allow the winger to move away from Teesside this summer.
And it’s a move which could benefit Boro as the season wears on, as the Championship is a long, hard slog of a campaign, and Monk will need options like Traore to sustain a promotion push over the entirety of the season.
Ultimately, the former Leeds and Swansea chief is under pressure to succeed this term having spent over £35 million on players during the summer, with anything less than promotion likely to be deemed a failure.
And while Traore often flattered to deceive last season, very few Championship defenders are going to enjoy playing against his pace and power as the campaign wears on – quite simply, it’s highly likely that he’ll increase his goals and assists tallies this season.
The 21-year-old only laid on one assist last season despite often getting into good areas and positions on the pitch, and he has already doubled his Boro assists’ tally with a contribution in their 3-0 success over Scunthorpe United in the Carabao Cup last week.
Yes, there’s a lot of room for improvement, but there’s little doubting that Traore could be an asset to Monk and the Middlesbrough team over the course of a Championship season.
He has reportedly been informed that he won’t be leaving the club this summer, even if he was interested in a move to Lille, so it is now up to him to knuckle down and showcase his talents, as they are talents would could seriously help Boro in their promotion quest this season.