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EFL Championship

Middlesbrough would strengthen chances of promotion by signing this free-scoring No. 9 – Opinion

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Middlesbrough Opinion: Mbwana Samatta could fire Boro to promotion next season

According to the Hartlepool Mail, Middlesbrough are interested in signing Tanzanian international striker Mbwana Samatta from Belgian giants Genk.

The same source claims that Boro had the 26-year-old free-scoring centre-forward at the top of their shop list in the January transfer window, although a move failed to materialise.

However, Hartlepool Mail understands that Boro are keen to firm up their interest in the talented striker ahead of the summer window and have sent their scouts to keep close tabs on the Tanzanian, while Cardiff City have also been credited with an interest in the prolific frontman.

Samatta was in terrific form for Genk in the Jupiler Pro League in the recently-concluded campaign, having netted 20 goals in 28 appearances to finish top of the scorer’s list in the Belgian top-flight. The 26-year-old racked up a staggering 32 goals in all competitions this season, including 3 in the group stages of the Europa League.

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The 26-year-old, who currently has 17 goals from 45 international appearances for Tanzania, played for Congolese club TP Mazembe before joining Genk in 2016. He hasn’t looked back since then and has made a big impression in his first couple of seasons in European football, racking up a total of 66 goals and 18 assists from 161 appearances for Genk in all competitions.

Blessed with all the attributes of an out-and-out centre-forward, Mbwana Samatta has caught the eye with his pace, agility, sharpness and clinical finishing in front of goal. Noted for his high levels of stamina, Samatta works extremely hard for his team in the final third and shows plenty of commitment on the pitch more often than not.

The Tanzanian tends to cause plenty of problems to the opposition with his subtle movement and physicality- using his strength and sharpness to lose his marker and making intelligent runs behind the backline. An aggressive player by nature, Samatta is always keen to put his foot through the ball and has the shooting prowess to score goals from outside the box as well. Furthermore, he is very strong in the air and takes his chances very well with both feet and head.

To put things into perspective, Middlesbrough can take a step closer to promotion by beating off competition for Mbwana Samatta. The 26-year-old has shown what a lethal striker he can be in the Belgian top-flight and few would argue against him making the step up to English football.

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Britt Assombalonga scored 14 goals in the Championship this season but the Congolese international spurned plenty of chances and wasn’t clinical enough in front of goal. Boro are unlikely to sign West Ham loanee Jordan Hugill following an unimpressive return of 6 goals in 37 Championship outings, while Rudy Gestede is another player who has slipped down the pecking order.

Samatta would be a massive upgrade on their existing options up front, and given that Assombalonga has attracted interest from recently-promoted Sheffield United (h/t Northern Echo), it won’t be a bad idea for Boro to cash in on him.

Also, they should consider offloading Martin Braithwaite, who has enjoyed a second successive fruitful loan spell away from Teesside and is unlikely to stick around in the Championship. Ashley Fletcher is a useful back-up but someone like Samatta would transform Boro into a formidable force in the Championship.

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If Middlesbrough are really serious about getting back to the Premier League, they need a prolific striker and Mbwana Samatta’s acquisition could solve a lot of problems for manager Tony Pulis.

Dragon Feeds

Much-needed steel and substance – Cardiff City’s midfield would get a new look if they sign this all-action 25-year-old midfielder

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Cardiff City Opinion: Bluebirds should go all out in their pursuit of Will Vaulks

According to BBC, Cardiff City are interested in signing Welsh international midfielder Will Vaulks from recently-relegated outfit Rotherham United in the summer.

BBC understands that Bluebirds’ manager Neil Warnock is under pressure to rebuild his midfield following the club’s relegation to the Championship.

Vaulks was one of the very few shining lights of Rotherham’s otherwise calamitous campaign in the second-tier which ended in relegation to League One.

The 25-year-old was one of the standout performers for the Millers this season and Cardiff want to get him on board in the summer transfer window, although the Welshman signed a new one-year deal with the club back in March.

The defensive midfielder was an ever-present for the Millers in the Championship this past season as he finished the campaign with 7 goals and 7 assists in 41 appearances.

The 25-year-old caught the eye with his consistently impressive performances for a team that spent almost the entire season in a relegation dogfight and move to a bigger club looks very much on the cards for Vaulks.

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A youth product of Tranmere Rovers, Vaulks enjoyed a fruitful spell at Falkirk in the Scottish Championship before making his move to Rotherham United back in 2016.

His first season at the club ended in relegation but the 25-year-old was one of the architects of the Millers promotion-winning League One campaign in the following season, bagging the award for the club’s Player of the Year in the process.

Vaulks once again suffered relegation this time around but his stellar run of form didn’t go unnoticed, with Wales boss Ryan Giggs handing him his senior international debut in a friendly against Trinidad and Tobago back in March.

Essentially a defensive midfielder by trade, Vaulks has shown the versatility to switch between holding and box-to-box roles in the middle of the park. A tough-tackling and all-action midfield enforcer noted for his drive, determination, tenacity and work-ethics, Vaulks is adept at cutting out the attacks and breaking up the play with crucial tackles and interceptions.

A set-piece specialist, who is also a very good reader of the game, the Welshman responds very well to the transitions in play and holds things together with his work-rate and range of passing.

Strong in the air and blessed with good distance-shooting abilities, Vaulks excels with his ability to increase cohesion in the middle of the park, while also playing the role of a ball-carrier from the deep areas.

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To add to that, the Welshman is also quite creative and has a good eye for picking out key passes in the final third, meaning that he is a good all-around midfielder who can shoulder both attacking and defensive responsibilities.

The 25-year-old averaged 1.5 key passes, 4.3 successful long balls, 2.2 tackles, 1.7 interceptions and 2.3 clearances per game in the Championship this season, figures which should prompt any promotion-chasing side in the second-tier to make a move for him.

To put things into perspective, Cardiff need to look at bargain deals in the market and Will Vaulks is a player who can offer very good value for money.

The Welshman’s stocks are clearly on the rise after his international debut and an impressive season in the Championship. The Bluebirds should look at him as someone who can add a lot of steel and substance to their midfield.

Long-standing Icelandic international Aaron Gunnarsson left the club on a free transfer, while loanees Victor Camarasa and Harry Arter have also returned to their parent clubs, Real Betis and Bournemouth respectively. Hence, it is clear that the Bluebirds need to look to reinforcements to ensure that they have the perfect balance in their squad.

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Cardiff should aim to secure promotion back to the Premier League at the first time of asking and the acquisition of Will Vaulks could prove to be a massive coup and certainly a step in the right direction.

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EFL Championship

Derby County signing this 33-year-old defensive stalwart would turn their backline into a formidable force

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Derby County Opinion: Why Gary Cahill will be a superb signing for the Rams

According to a report from the Daily Mirror, Derby County want to sign Chelsea defender Gary Cahill in the summer transfer window.

Gary Cahill, 33, is out of contract at Chelsea and will leave the club on a free transfer next month. The former England international played only eight games all season and has not started a match since November.

The veteran defender will be a free agent after seven years at Stamford Bridge and Frank Lampard wants to reunite with his former teammate at Pride Park. The report claims Premier League promotion could be the ticket to seal the deal for Cahill, as Lampard plans to make the English defender his first summer signing.

Thus, the Rams know they will have to achieve promotion to stand any chance of beating the likes of West Ham, Southampton and Sheffield United to Cahill’s signature.

Lampard’s Derby are one win away from promotion to the Premier League. They face Aston Villa in the Championship play-off final at Wembley on Monday. The Rams’ sole aim for now will be to play Premier League football next season but with the summer transfer now in full swing, Lampard needs to start bring in quality reinforcements.

One area that needs thorough reinforcing is the defence, with a couple of central defenders required at the club. Derby did sign free agent Efe Ambrose in February on a short-term deal until the end of the season but he hasn’t played a single game. As it stands, there are no signs he will still be with the club once the play-off final is over.

Curtis Davies and Richard Keogh are coming towards the end of their careers, while Fikayo Tomori is likely to return back to Chelsea after the expiry of his loan at the end of the season. Thus, to avoid a potential burn out of options, Lampard should bring in Gary Cahill.

Cahill will turn 34 in December but he still can give two-three years of high-quality football. The English defender is physically strong and a dominant presence at both ends of the pitch. He can also play the ball out from the back and a real leader, who will have a crucial role especially when the chips are down.

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Plus, his volumes of Premier League experience will make him such a fantastic addition for the Rams.

Verdict

The former England international would not only add quality to Derby’s defence but also depth to the squad. All in all, Lampard’s Rams will make a statement of intent ahead of the next season by signing Cahill on a free transfer.

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EFL Championship

Sheffield United’s striker woes would end if they win the race to sign this in-demand 23-goal forward

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Sheffield United Opinion: Why the Blades should sign Macauley Bonne?

According to a report from the Leicester Mercury, newly-promoted Premier League side Sheffield United are one of the six clubs interested in Leyton Orient star Macauley Bonne.

The 23-year-old forward fired Leyton Orient out of the National League with 23 goals in 46 games. And that form hasn’t gone unnoticed, with the likes of Leicester City, Charlton Athletic, Sunderland, Sheffield Wednesday and Middlesbrough also keeping tabs on him, adds the report.

While the Zimbabwean is looking forward to testing himself at League level having spent the last two seasons with Orient, Sheffield United must try prying him away to the Premier League this summer.

Sheffield United are preparing themselves for a big Premier League season after achieving promotion. The Blades finished runners-up in the Championship and fought off challenges from the likes of Leeds, Middlesbrough and West Brom along the way, showing they were capable of grinding out wins as well as playing exciting football.

While it’s a remarkable achievement to play in the Premier League, Wilder will need to start planning on rebuilding the squad. He needs to adopt a sustainable model when it comes to building his team and make the Bramall Lane an attractive spot to exciting players in the lower divisions of English football.

The Blades should spend in the right areas on the right players who are carefully selected to operate in Wilder’s 3-5-2 or 3-4-1-2 system. By signing young, hungry, exciting and highly-skilled talents, the Yorkshire outfit can certainly enjoy a solid 2019/20 campaign.

To that end, Sheffield United are in dire need of a centre-forward. They currently only have two senior strikers in David McGoldrick and Billy Sharp having directed a number of their forwards towards the exit door. Macauley Bonne would be an interesting choice for Wilder.

Bonne has enjoyed a brilliant campaign in the National League having scored goals for fun at Leyton Orient. However, he is untested at a higher level but given a lot of clubs including Sheffield United are interested in the signing the 23-year-old, who is renowned for his pace and strength, he would certainly be a good signing.

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Plus, the Zimbabwean has age on his side and would provide ideal competition to the likes of Billy Sharp and David McGoldrick. Thus, this could be an important signing if the Blades are hoping to stay in the Premier League.

Verdict

Immediate impact certainly shouldn’t be expected by Wilder and co. as Bonne could need time to adapt to the Premier League. If the Blades sign him and he quickly adjusts to the demands of the top-flight, the speedy Zimbabwean could turn out to be a sound investment.

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