Although it’s hard to read too much into press speculation, the two pieces of transfer business that seem the likeliest at the moment are Union Berlin’s left Kristian Pedersen and Middlesbrough’s Marvin Johnson.
Neither of these are household names, but with limited resources, Garry Monk seems to be going after players who have gone under the radar somewhat, but he knows can make a difference.
There is likely to be a sizeable overhaul of the squad this summer, and with senior players like David Stockdale, Tomasz Kuzszcak, Jonathan Grounds and Craig Gardner all reportedly told they can leave, it seems the manager is looking to re-make the team in his own image.
The pursuit of Johnson is a particularly interesting one. He is a player Monk knows well after signing him for Middlesbrough. The 27-year-old started off well at Boro with a goal on his debut in September, followed by two assists in a 3-2 victory against QPR a week later.
That was as good as it got for the winger though and when Tony Pulis took over as manager, he barely got a look in. It may be best to look at his record at Oxford the previous season as a better indicator of what he can do. Seven goals and 11 assists in 55 games is not a bad record.
He’s certainly not proven in the Championship, but there is obviously something there that the Blues boss has seen to want to sign him for a second time in two seasons. We are definitely short of options in wide areas, and we need players who can create and chip in with a few themselves after a poor season in front of goal last time out.
The pursuit of Johnson is essentially a compromise between getting a player for an affordable price whilst strengthening a position in the squad that needs bolstering. The same goes for Pedersen. If Grounds heads out the door for a modest fee, his replacement has to be someone who can be dependable and an upgrade on Grounds, but not cost huge amounts.
The Dane’s €2.5m release clause was a great opportunity that the Monk couldn’t pass up. At 23 years of age, he is seven years younger than our no.3 and could have the potential to be even better, even if again he isn’t proven in the second tier of English football.
There’s a long way to go before the start of the season, and we can expect a few surprise incomings and outgoing transfers, but from the looks of things, Monk is getting the balance right between improving the squad and working within a tight budget.