A new era has begun at the Riverside Stadium, with former Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder now at the helm.
The new Boro boss has already stated that he wants to get the majority of his winter transfer business done before Middlesbrough head to Mansfield on the 8th of January in the fourth round of the FA Cup.
But he won’t be spending from a bottomless pit of wealth in January, so as new faces arrive on Teesside, Boro will most likely be saying their fair share of goodbye’s too, as Wilder looks to mould a squad capable of making a play-off push this season.
So who might some of those players be? Let’s take a look at some prime candidates for the exit door.
The 28 year-old Austrian shot-stopper arrived in the January of 2020 on a three-and-a-half year deal from Swiss outfit St Gallen.
Signed during the tenure of Jonathan Woodgate, Stojanovic was given the opportunity to cement himself as Boro’s number one goalkeeper, however, this did not happen.
Since arriving, the former Macedonia youth international has only appeared in eight Championship games, and has yet to make an appearance for Middlesbrough in 2021.
In truth, Stojanovic has never looked particularly settled at Middlesbrough, and reports at the beginning of the 2021 season suggested that Stojanovic had told the then Boro Boss Neil Warnock that he wanted a move away from the club, following a loan spell at German second division side FC St Pauli in the second half last season.
That has not yet materialised, and to give credit to Stojanovic, he has not kicked up a fuss about it. But with Luke Daniels and Joe Lumley ahead of him in the pecking order, a January departure appears to be firmly on the cards, and would make sense for both parties. Definitely one to keep an eye on.
Still at the tender age of 23, the West Ham youth product is still in the early days of what he hopes will be a long career.
Injury has unfortunatley de-railed his young career somewhat, with the attacker failing to appear in a match since his devastating ACL injury in an FA Cup at Brentford back in early January of this year.
Sidelined for the last 10 months, Browne is now close to returning to action, but this time away from action has seen – through no fault of his own – his name fall down the depth chart, with Marcus Tavernier, Duncan Watmore, Isaiah Jones and Onel Hernandez all ahead of him.
If Brown can get back on the pitch prior to the January transfer window opening, or even in the first week or two of the new year, he may get the opportunity to prove to Chris Wilder that he has something to offer to this team.
However, with Wilder undoubtedly looking for further reinforcements in the wide and central areas, Browne may become a wage bill/squad registration numbers casualty.
The majority of Middlesbrough fans will want Browne to have every chance of forcing his way into the matchday squad again, and if he is to depart, most will hope that it will only be a temporary loan switch.
This 24 year-old forward has pace to burn, and his ability has seen him previously have trials with Chelsea, Manchester City and Newcastle United.
But a dream move to the Premier League never came to fruition, so Olusanya went back to work to ply his trade in English Football’s non-league system.
It was there, in the 2020/21 season at National League South side Billericay Town, that his performances and raw ability would mean then Boro boss Neil Warnock couldn’t help but roll the dice on a move for Olusanya.
He got his move to Middlesbrough this summer, and has made three senior appearances since then. But unlike his former Tooting & Mitcham team-mate Isaiah Jones, he hasn’t yet been able to mould his raw talents together to be effective at Championship level.
But Olusanya has jumped up five-tiers in the English Football pyramid, so it would be unfairly expectant of him to come in and take the division by storm. What does look likely is a loan switch in January.
Perhaps a temporary drop down to League One/Two level would allow Olusanya the opportunity to get some regular professional minutes under his belt, and would also allow the Middlesbrough coaching staff to gauge the level of his current ability.
The big 6’3” bruising centre forward undoubtedly offers something to Chris Wilder that none of his other forwards can, and that’s his ability to bully and barge his way past opposing defenders.
However, an end product in terms of finding the back of the net is something that has evaded Ikpeazu since his arrival from Wycombe Wanderers this summer for a figure reported to be as much as £1M.
At the time of writing, the former Watford, Hearts and Wycombe – to name but a few of his former clubs – man has netted twice in 18 appearances for Middlesbrough in 2021, with one assist.
Reports in recent weeks have began to emerge that Ikpeazu could be on the Teesside chopping block already, with Chris Wilder using him sparely to say the least since his arrival in the dugout.
Those same reports have also suggested that Wilder will be on the lookout for further attacking reinforcements in January, with the most noise relating to a loan move for Arsenal’s Folarin Balogun.
If Balogun, and/or any other strikers arrive through the Rockliffe Park doors in January, then Ikpeazu may need to be moved for a variety of reasons including freeing up transfer funds.
What may prove to be the most likely cause for Ikpeazu’s time on Teesside coming to an abrupt end, is indeed Chris Wilder and his tactical philosophy. It is hard to see where a player like Ikpeazu fits in terms of what Wilder will want his strikers to be able to do, as well as how he would like his team to play in general.
What can’t be taken away from Ikpeazu is his work-rate and the undoubted natural abilities that he brings to the table with his height and power, and he could prove to be a very shrewd addition to a Championship relegation-threatened side or indeed a League One promotion-battling outfit. Perhaps a return to Wycombe Wanderers is on the cards?