14 players that Town could target for a creative spark
- Credit: PA
Ipswich Town will need to sign at least one attacking midfielder this summer to compete with Conor Chaplin, Sone Aluko and Cameron Humphreys. STUART WATSON highlights 14 potential targets.
We have to start with ‘Santi’.
The mercurial Kosovan produced some moments of magic on his return to Town last season - his outrageous chipped finish against Crewe standing out.
Was a return of six goals and six assists enough to convince the Blues to really push hard to get him back from French club Dijon again though?
“Everyone knows about Santi, his quality and what he can do with the ball,” said Blues boss Kieran McKenna, who rotated the 25-year-old in and out the side.
“The big thing for me, what we’re working with him on and are trying to develop in him, is stuff off the ball - his aggression, his work-rate, his running, his pressing.”
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An ultra-ambitious name to put on this list, I know, given reported Premier League and Championship interest.
Remember though, everyone said Scott Fraser was destined for a step up the pyramid last summer only for Ipswich to prise him away from MK Dons.
Twine scored 20 goals in his impressive debut season for the Dons. Reports have suggested it'll take upwards of £3m to land the 22-year-old.
Town *might* be able to push the boat out financially. It would then come down to selling the vision and his role at the very heart of it. Would be an incredible coup.
Another ambitious name to put on this list.
Town fans will remember the Welshman for his 11-goal loan spell at Portman Road in 2016/17. At times, he carried the team.
A £5m move from Leicester to Derby followed and, over the last five seasons, he’s scored 37 goals for the Rams with 11 of them coming in the campaign just gone.
Wayne Rooney has said he would like to keep the 28-year-old, who he made captain, at Pride Park following their spirited relegation. Whether Lawrence can be persuaded to sign a new deal remains to be seen.
Plays with an edge. Another who can deliver a dead ball and shoot from range.
A player who has scored, on average, a goal every four games throughout his career with Gillingham and Blackburn.
The 28-year-old has played very little football over the last two seasons due to knee injuries though.
Having come on as a sub in nine of the final 10 games of last season, Dack has pushed his wedding back a year in order to fully focus on what will be his first pre-season since 2019.
Tony Mowbray recently said the attacking midfielder ‘has the potential to be the best player in the Championship’.
But will Rovers’ new boss take a risk on his fitness? And could a club like Ipswich persuade them to sell as he heads into the final year of his deal?
French magician has helped three different clubs – Leicester, Brighton and Fulham – gain promotion to the Premier League.
The 30-year-old made just four sub outings in the league last season though and looks to be surplus to requirements at Craven Cottage following their impressive title-winning campaign.
Knockaert turned down a loan move to Ipswich in February 2015 when Mick McCarthy’s men were pushing for Championship promotion. Maybe the stars could now align for him to come to Suffolk?
Loaned out by Chelsea year-after-year, the versatile forward made 80 appearances in the Championship for Rotherham, Huddersfield, Leeds and Luton. He also had a spell in the Premier League with Brighton.
The former England youth international has been dogged by injuries though. He’s just been released by Preston after sitting out last season with a ruptured Achilles.
Has the potential to light up League One with his final third creativity. Could be worth a short-term contract.
The afro-haired attacker came through the youth ranks at Manchester United under the guidance of Kieran McKenna.
He played in the UEFA Youth League at the age of 14, made his U23s debut at the age of 16 and made his senior debut not long after turning 17.
The England U19 international – who turned 18 in February – scored six goals and provided eight assists in the PL2 last season. He was rewarded with a late sub outing in United’s 1-0 defeat at Crystal Palace on the final day of the Premier League season.
His former U23s boss Neil Wood is now in charge of Salford City and could be keen to take him on loan.
“He is a very technical player and very mature for his age,” said Wood. “He's played No.9, he's played left, he's played on the right, he's played 10. Whatever you ask him to do – on and off the ball – he is going to do it.”
Made his name in League One with Walsall before proving to be a key player for Brentford in the Championship.
Returned to his boyhood club West Brom and helped them get promoted back to the Premier League in 2019/20.
Spent last season on loan at Stoke City and now finds himself a free agent at the age of 30.
Ability to dictate the game from deep or create further up the field could make him a useful addition for Town.
Former Blackpool, Derby and Huddersfield attacker is now a free agent after being released by Stoke.
The 30-year-old spent the second half of last season on loan at Reading under the management of his father Paul. Will the Royals sign him permanently? Or will he need to find the 12th club of his career?
A free-roaming left-footer who likes to play off the cuff, the former England U21 could be seen as an alternative to Celina.
If McKenna wants some wide options for a front three, then pacey left-sided forward Barker may be of interest.
He came through the youth ranks at Manchester City, had loan spells with Rotherham, NAC Breda, Hibernian and Preston, before signing for Rangers.
It didn’t work out at Ibrox and, following a loan spell at Oxford and subsequent short-term deal at Reading, the 25-year-old now finds himself a free agent.
Speaking back in 2021, Oxford boss Karl Robinson said: “Brandon’s an incredible talent – I’m really shocked we got this one done. I didn’t think he was ever in our reach.”
Former Watford youngster played in America for Atlanta United before joining Luton Town in 2020.
The 23-year-old has just enjoyed an impressive loan spell at League Two side Bradford City.
Bantams boss Mark Hughes said: “Dion’s unpredictable, he’s a talented boy and at the top end of the pitch you want a little bit of spontaneity and off-the-cuff work sometimes.”
A left-footer with a smart turn of pace, he can play wide or as a No.10. League One might be the next step in his career.
The 21-year-old was recently named League Two Young Player of the Year following an impressive season on loan at Newport County (7G, 7A).
Ipswich fans may remember him catching the eye, on his debut, when the Welsh club won 1-0 at Portman Road in the Carabao Cup. Azaz provided the assist for Timmy Abraham’s winner that night.
With two full seasons now under his belt at fourth-tier level (he was previously at Cheltenham), the Aston Villa youngster now looks ready for League One.
Quick and direct, the versatile attacker made a £1m switch from West Brom to Birmingham in 2020.
The 23-year-old spent last season on loan at Charlton and impressed as a substitute against Ipswich during a miserable night at The Valley.
Former England youth international is a friend and former team-mate of Blues duo Rekeem Harper and Kyle Edwards.
The former Sunderland youngster helped Hartlepool win promotion back to the Football League and subsequently impressed in League Two last season (9G, 0A).
Was recently named their Players’ and Fans’ Player of the Year and also scooped the Goal of the Season Award for his long-range strike against Harrogate Town.
Direct, quick and tricky, he can play wide or through the middle.
Portsmouth and Derby are said to be in the race to sign the 24-year-old when his contract expires next month.