Last season, the centre of the field was one of Cardiff’s strongest positions, but with the loss of loanees Marko Grujic and Craig Bryson, as well as the potential departure of Aron Gunnarsson, it is an area of immediate concern.
Here’s five options for Neil Warnock this summer:
The free transfer
Former QPR midfielder Stephane Mbia is available on a free transfer this summer after his contract at Chinese club Hebei China Fortune FC expired.
While many will associate him somewhat negatively for his spell at QPR – where he was involved in a relegation from the top flight – he has a really good pedigree. Spells at Marseille and Sevilla saw Mbia play at the highest levels, while he also captains the Cameroon national team. At 31, Mbia won’t be a long-term solution, but his experience may be invaluable.
The Welsh option
Another experienced head in the middle of the park is Welshman Andy King, who will be returning to parent club Leicester after a loan at Swansea City. Cardiff fans should not be put off by his spell at our local rivals, but should instead appreciate the qualities King would bring.
He is perhaps more forward thinking than our current midfield options, and would be able to get in support of the front man. Having already ruled out a return to Swansea, a move to the capital could suit King.
The loan option
We spoke about the hole left in midfield by the return of loanees Marko Grujic and Craig Bryson to their parent clubs, but Neil Warnock could opt to bring the former back to the club.
Serbian Grujic impressed during a short loan in South Wales, contributing some key performances in the fight for promotion. With a full pre-season under Neil Warnock, it would be exciting to see how Grujic could develop in the centre of the park.
The under the radar signing
The 25-year-old Australian, Massimo Luongo has long impressed in the heart of the QPR midfield, but should be looking to make the step up to the top flight this summer.
Luongo is a tough-tackling enforcer, who recorded the most tackles in the Championship last year. Cardiff could do with some of his steel going forward.
The star signing
The dream signing for many a Bluebird is Stoke City’s Joe Allen. Yes, he’s an ex-Jack but he would be a superb signing for any Premier League side. Stoke are reportedly desperate to keep him and are negotiating a new contract without a big salary cut.
Can Cardiff get him? Probably not, but if there’s a chance, they should jump at it with both hands. Allen would bring much needed craft and guile to an otherwise industrious midfield.
Scott is a lifelong Cardiff City fan and freelance football writer. Scott hosts the VFTN podcast.