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Our Championship Signing of the Summer XI; Ft West Brom trio and Burnley ace

Zack Steffen – Middlesbrough, loan  The Manchester City loanee deserves better than to be remembered for his horror mistake against Liverpool the FA Cup semi-finals….

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Zack Steffen – Middlesbrough, loan 

The Manchester City loanee deserves better than to be remembered for his horror mistake against Liverpool the FA Cup semi-finals. But, with that Sadio Mane goal still fresh in the mind, Steffen arrives at the Riverside hoping to remind his critics why Pep Guardiola placed so much faith in an ‘exceptional keeper’ who had never played a senior game this side of the Atlantic before sealing a shock move to the Premier League champions in 2019.

Guardiola is a huge fan of Steffen’s passing range. And the American’s quality on the ball will be utilised regularly under Chris Wilder at Boro too. 

Kane Wilson – Bristol City, free 

It remains to be seen whether Wilson can make the not-unsubstantial step up from the fourth tier to the second.

But, after contributing three goals and 14 assists as Forest Green Rovers snatched the League Two title in May – earning the division’s Player of the Year award along the way – the rampaging right-back more than deserves his chances at a higher level. 

Anel Ahmedhodzic – Sheffield United, £4 million 

Notable mentions must go to Dion Sanderson (Birmingham City), Darragh Lenihan (Middlesbrough), Kal Naismith (Luton Town) and Taylor Harwood-Bellis (Burnley). 

But, in Sweden international Ahmedhodzic, The Blades have paid just £4 million for a central defender who was linked with, among others, Manchester United, Chelsea and Napoli only a couple of summers ago. 

Ahmedhodzic could form a new-look partnership with the left-footed Ciaran Clark at Bramall Lane. 

Dan Ballard – Sunderland, £2 million 

He may be only 22 but the former Arsenal youngster has crammed plenty of action into his still-embryonic career. Ballard has shone at EFL level before, in the colours of Blackpool and Millwall. What’s more, he already has 15 caps for the Northern Irish national team. 

“He’s big, strong, athletic, he covers the space well,” Sunderland boss Alex Neil tells The Chronicle. 

“Equally, he can get up and compete. He also uses the ball pretty well, so, what’s there not to like?” 

Ian Maatsen – Burnley, loan 

Photo by James Holyoak/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Ok, Maatsen is hardly guaranteed a starting spot under Vincent Kompany. Not with Charlie Taylor sticking around. But if the former Feyenoord starlet can recapture the form he showed at coupon-busting Coventry City in 2021/22, then Maatsen could make the left-back spot his own. 

“Even a slightly off day stands out as exceptional,” Coventry goalkeeper Simon Moore told The Athletic.  

“It is not normal. The kid is bright, he’s hugely talented, he wants to learn, and he never gives up.” 

Okay Yokuslu – West Brom, free transfer 

By his own admission, Baggies boss Steve Bruce thought the Yokuslu ship had sailed as far as a return to the Hawthorns was concerned. Bruce was as surprised as anyone, then, when it emerged that the Turkey international was open to the idea of adding another chapter to his West Brom story. 

Yokuslu, a commanding defensive midfielder who is as effective with the ball as he is without it, looks an inspired addition to an Albion side who lacked inspiration at both ends of the pitch last term. Is there a better ‘number six’ in the Championship?

Yokuslu edges out Hull City’s Jean-Michel Seri and Burnley’s Josh Cullen in our XI. 

Zian Flemming – Millwall, £1.6 million 

If things had worked out differently, Flemming would now be gearing himself up for a stab at the Premier League in the garibaldi red of Nottingham Forest. Instead, the former Ajax youngster will be hoping to offset the departure of Millwall talisman Jed Wallace in his new South East London home. 

Unpredictable, intelligent and capable of producing something out of nothing. Flemming scored 27 goals from attacking midfield during two outstanding seasons at Fortuna Sittard in the Netherlands. 

John Swift – West Brom, free transfer 

At the start of the summer, Steve Bruce spoke openly about the need to add some creativity and cutting edge to a West Brom side who’s performances last term could have been prescribed as a cure for insomnia. 

So, enter John Swift. 

Hitting double figures for goals and assists at a struggling Reading side in 2021/22, Swift’s performances in pre-season – and that Modric-esque through ball – are a promising sign of things to come. 

The one-time Chelsea trainee keeps the Championship’s most expensive newcomer – £9 million Norwich City man Gabriel Sara – out of our team. 

Jed Wallace – West Brom, free transfer 

Photo by Adam Fradgley/West Bromwich Albion FC via Getty Images

Whoever said you need to spring open the purse-strings in order to build a promotion-winning squad? In Yokuslu, Swift and Wallace, West Brom have signed three of the finest footballers in England’s second tier. All without spending a single penny on transfer fees. 

Wallace, like Swift, is capable of scoring and creating at a reliable rate at Championship level.

Ryan Giles – Middlesbrough, loan 

It didn’t take the Telford-born wideman long to show why Wilder was so keen to bring him to Middlesbrough. A hat-trick of assists during Boro’s pre-season victory over Morecambe in midweek will have the Riverside faithful drooling. 

Giles, who provided nine assists in 19 starts at Cardiff, delivers like Postman Pat after a six-pack of Red Bull.  

Scott Twine – Burnley, £5 million 

You’d have been forgiven for expecting to see Dwight Gayle here. 

But while the Stoke City newbie boasts a terrific track record in the second tier, Scott Twine is perhaps the most exciting signing made by any Championship outfit so far this summer. He took League Two by storm, scored 20 goals and set up 13 more in the third-tier, and now arrives at Burnley looking to prove that he can rise to the challenge once again. 

Keep an eye out for Twine’s fearsome free-kicks. 

Our Championship signing of the summer XI – GRV Owned Image
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