Blackburn Rovers’ summer recruiting campaign spins in the background as the club searches for their next manager.
Tony Mowbray has confirmed that plans to strengthen the team are underway despite the lack of clarity surrounding its future at the time. While any new additions will need to be approved by the next in line, the recruitment team is still hard at work.
There are a number of key factors to consider when breaking down which areas to strengthen and how this might be possible. Mowbray has hinted the club could consider a free transfer and lower wages if he is not promoted.
READ MORE: Blackburn Rovers confirm departure of Tony Mowbray staff in ongoing manager search
Whether or not that materializes, it’s unclear what the budget or remit of a new manager will be. Without a doubt, the team needs some new faces and in this detailed breakdown, Live throws reviews the main priorities.
The team as we know it
There are still a number of unknown quantities when discussing Blackburn Rovers’ needs this summer. For the sake of argument and clarity, we have to assume that neither Darragh Lenihan nor Ryan Nyambe will sign their new contracts.
The two have been in talks for several weeks. They could still sign but as of today they won’t be committed beyond June 30.
Here’s a breakdown of Blackburn Rovers’ current first-team options, with Joe Rankin-Costello also to be included. This of course depends on the manager there but it will be assumed that the club recruits for a 4-2-3-1 form.
Let’s break down each department of the squad, without needing to look at the goalkeepers. The club are well supplied with Thomas Kaminski having just signed a new contract and Ainsley Pears a competent assistant.
In the scenario Nyambe left for new pastures, a new right-back must be near the top of the priority list. Ideally, the club needs someone with attacking instincts who could play in a flat-four or as a wing-back.
Hayden Carter has the qualities to play in a natural fullback role if they use a back four like James Brown does. Rankin-Costello’s versatility makes his best position slightly unknown, but he might be able to cover/competition to play from the back.
At least two new centre-backs will be needed. Carter’s best roles, according to our inside track from Portsmouth expert Jonty Colman, would be right-back in a four-man defense or right centre-back in a three-man.
Daniel Ayala and Scott Wharton are the current senior centre-backs. Lenihan and Brighton & Hove Albion replacements Jan Paul van Hecke are a must.
At left-back, Tayo Edun is Harry Pickering’s only assistant but has played most of his minutes in central midfield. Given the need for rookies in this area as well, a senior left-back wouldn’t hurt, but it’s certainly not high on the list either.
The departures of Joe Rothwell, Bradley Johnson and Jacob Davenport have created a clear need for central midfielders. Lewis Travis and John Buckley are the only senior options right now.
Rovers need a box-to-box midfielder who can offer a bit of everything. Someone mobile, athletic and comfortable at both ends of the court. Someone in the mold of future free agent Andy Rinohmota, for example.
Likewise, another player capable of being a deep midfielder would be ideal. Buckley had a breakthrough season in the number 10 role and it would be unfair to suddenly rely on him to be that player as an eight or six.
Bradley Dack will hopefully be fit after a full pre-season under his belt. If Rovers enter the new season with him, Buckley, Travis, Edun and two other midfielders, they would be well covered for flexibility and formation change.
Out Wide is actually one of the areas where Blackburn Rovers are well supplied. They currently have four, two for each flank with varying degrees of versatility.
Ryan Hedges and Ben Brereton Diaz finished the campaign as first-choice wides. Tyrhys Dolan and Dilan Markanday are the other options in these roles.
Like Dack, it’s exciting to think about Markanday’s potential next season. If he can stay injury-free, he could be a really impactful player in the final third.
The obvious elephant in the room is a certain Chilean maestro. With a year remaining on his contract and sufficient interest in his signing, there is a high possibility that he could have played his last game for Blackburn Rovers.
If he were to leave, another wide-scoring player would be needed, to complement a rather young generation of wingers. It would be unfair to expect Hedges, Dolan and Markanday to suddenly find 22 more goals between them next season.
If they sold Brereton Diaz and that money, or part of it, was reinvested, another striker would top the list. Sam Gallagher scored nine times last season and although his all-around game is improving, he needs more firepower.
Even if Brereton Diaz stays, senior coverage and competition is needed. Jack Vale is the current backup and although he is a promising prospect, he cannot be expected to hit double figures in the Championship.
Total shopping list
In total, Rovers need around seven new faces, assuming there are no departures. Three of those seven should be players who can step into the best XI immediately, with others meant to add competition and depth.
1. Central defender, 2. Right defender, 3. Central midfielder, 4. Forward, 5. Central midfielder, 6. Central defender, 7. Left defender.
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