The Tigers ended the January window in a stronger position than when they began it
Liam Rosenior wanted three signings in the January transfer window and that’s exactly what the Hull City head coach was given by owner Acun Ilicali.
From the moment he arrived, Rosenior set about reducing the overall number of players in his squad and then adding in the areas he believed were lacking.
Malcolm Ebiowei, Aaron Connolly and Karl Darlow all arrived while Peru international Yuriel Celi was signed as a player with potential and will spend the next year at Club Universitario de Deportes.
Though Liam Rosenior has made it clear that his focus is now on the remaining games in the Championship season and City’s bid to dramatically gatecrash the top six, behind the scenes, work is already well underway to continue the remedial work needed this summer. Here Hull Live looks in detail at what the priorities may be.
Sort out the contracts
City have eight players out of contract this summer, though that list does include those like Lewie Coyle and Alfie Jones that will almost certainly have the options activated.
Callum Elder and Greg Docherty will hope to earn themselves a new deal, with Matty Jacob now the only other out-of-contract player following Callum Jones penning fresh terms recently.
Tyler Smith, Vaughn Covil and Billy Chadwick are the other three with options on their deals. Dishing out new contracts is never a foregone conclusion and it will be interesting to see what happens in the coming months with those players.
Find a frontman
The signing of Oscar Estupinan was arguably City’s best bit of summer business, particularly getting him for nothing amid a flurry of interest from there.
Benjamin Tetteh was another summer arrival, though owing to a combination of injury and more recently, suspension, City have yet to see any return on that particular investment.
Come the start of next season, the Tigers will need competition for both Oscar and Tetteh with decisions to be made over the future of Tyler Smith and loan striker Aaron Connolly.
Smith will likely be moved on once his spell at Oxford finishes, and if Connolly’s stint continues to go well then there is every chance Rosenior will push for that deal to be done.
Fending off the vultures
Take it as a compliment that things are going well, but it’s likely there will be bigger fish hovering above the MKM Stadium looking to snare a player or two this summer.
Oscar Estupinan is the obvious one, given the clamour for goalscorers, and City will expect to have more interest having fended off plenty of it in January.
Given his high profile back in his homeland, there will be speculation once again surrounding the future of Ozan Tufan. A move back to Turkiye was nailed on at one stage in January, before the mercurial talent decided to tough it out at City and give it a real go.
Expect some interest in Jacob Greaves, the highly-rated young central defender who is proving to be equally adept at left-back under Rosenior.
Middlesbrough pushed hard last summer and were close to doing a deal before the 21-year-old penned a new deal to end immediate speculation over this future, but expect that to resurface in the close season.
The reality for any club in the Championship is that they must sell to buy, and City are no different. While their commercial revenue is increasing, gates remain below 20,000 and ticket prices are such that the matchday income is not where it needs to be to bankroll a summer like 2022.
Club’s at this level are losing money and need the support of their owners, or at the very least, a significant player sale each summer to support the club and keep it going, even those with the benefit of parachute payments must cut their cloth accordingly.
Keane Lewis-Potter was last summer’s departure and there may need to be one this time around, so that’s something Rosenior will understand and potentially have to deal with.
Five players are here on loan, and there are significant decisions to be made over their futures. Rosenior wants Dimitrios Pelkas to stay beyond the summer, but does the Greek international want to remain in England or go back to Fenerbahce and battle for his place, and try to earn a new deal in Istanbul?
Xavier Simons is another Rosenior wants long-term, so will City be able to do the permanent deal they couldn’t on deadline day; what about Connolly?
As we mentioned above, by his own admission, Connolly is likely to have a decision to make either way this summer when it comes to deciding what he does next, with Brighton seemingly moving on from the 23-year-old Irishman.
Karl Darlow hadn’t seen out Newcastle United’s Carabao Cup semi-final and already there was talk about a permanent move to City at the end of the season, despite Nathan Baxter’s loan from Chelsea remaining intact, for now at least.
Unless something out of the ordinary happens, Malcolm Ebiowei will return to Crystal Palace and therefore leaving a big hole in Rosenior’s plans on the flank.
Including Baxter, City have six loanees and at least four of them are in with a genuine chance of remaining here permanently.
The left-back role
Vice-chairman Tan Kesler made it clear City wanted to bring in a new left-back during January, with City trying to do a deal for Harry Toffolo, only to be rejected by the Forest man before he saw his Anderlecht move gazumped by the Premier League Reds on deadline day.
That likely means one of two things will happen in that position. Either Callum Elder will be moved on and a new man will compete with Greaves on the left side of Rosenior’s defence, or the Australian will stay and compete with a new arrival, freeing up Greaves to return to the centre of defence.
Either way, it’s reasonable to assume that’s one area to watch this summer, particularly if Brandon Fleming comes back into contention following his loan stint at Oxford United.
Rosenior will be busy this summer as he continues to stamp his authority on the squad. There will be other members of the current squad moved on, while those deals the club tried to do in January could also be pursued.
Konrad de la Fuente’s move collapsed because of an administration issue between Marseille and Olympiacos, so that’s one that could likely be followed up, while Hibernian’s Murray Aiken remains a target.
Without question, it will be a fascinating period and in many ways, more so than 2022.
Could it happen?
It may sound daft to say, but with City in some fine form and just four points off the top six with 16 games to go, there is the very real possibility that there could be a play-off challenge in the final weeks of the campaign.
And should that happen, and you would be foolish to rule it out at this stage, we all know the pot of gold that could come at the end of it, and that must also be prepared for.
City will have working lists of various targets, and they’ll also have them based on whatever league that may be in.