Date: 12th July 2017 at 11:24pm
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When the transfer window opened on the January 1st 2017, there was a sense of optimism amongst Birmingham City fans that hadn`t been seen since the start of the club`s financial troubles in the Summer of 2011.

Fresh from Trillion Trophy Asia`s takeover two months earlier, then manager Gianfranco Zola was handed a war chest of what was believed to be around £10 million for transfers, wages and agent`s fees.

This was significantly larger than the budget of both Gary Rowett and Lee Clark, so naturally Blues fans were excited to see who the Italian would be able recruit.

Two of the most significant signings were Kerim Frei and Cheick Keita.

After Zola was sacked, opportunites for this pair were very limited. Keita went on to make one further substitute appearance against local rivals Aston Villa, whereas Frei didn`t play a single minute of first-team football in the final three games under Harry Redknapp.

Both players now have the opportunity to prove to the management they are worthy of a place in the Blues side, but do they really have what it takes to make an important contribution in the upcoming Championship campaign?

Here are my thoughts on what both players have to offer for the forthcoming season.

Cheick Keita.

Of the two players in question, Keita certainly found more success in the second half of last season.

He signed for club on January 19th, costing the club £1.45 million. In the midst of very difficult circumstances, Keita went on to make 10 Championship appearances, registering one assist, which set up Blues` only home win under Zola against Fulham.

During that time, he impressed may fans with his attacking intent and skilful dribbling.

However, on occasions his defending wasn`t quite up to scratch and his desire to get forward often caused Blues to be left short at the back.

That being said Keita could certainly still have a future at the club, but this would be best served further up the field.

Blues are somewhat short in the wing department and Keita is more than capable of filling this void. He has proved that he can beat defenders with the ball, and with a solid left-back behind him, he can be a real threat for the side going forward.

Kerim Frei.

Signed from Besiktas for a reported £1.91 million, the Turk found it difficult to settle at the club.

Besides his goal-of-the-season against Rotherham United, Frei was unable to make any memorable contributions.

However, this was at least in part due to the fact he never had a settled run in the side.

Going forward, there is still chance for Frei to make a contribution to the club`s play off pursuit. One thing he certainly has is pace, and like Keita, he is more than capable running at players with the ball at his feet.

He clearly has talent, as without it he wouldn`t have been able to have gained the Premier League and Champions League experience at Fulham and Besiktas. Certainly not a lost cause, it`s now up to him to work hard and prove that he should be part of Redknapp`s plans for the upcoming campaign.

Blues fans, do you think the pair that George has mentioned can still play a part in what Harry Redknapp is trying to achieve this season? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section down below!

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