Cardiff have work to do - whoever is in charge

Cardiff City players celebrate scoring against Ipswich in March
Cardiff finished 12th in the Championship in 2023-24, 11 points outside the top six [Getty Images]

Regardless of who is in the Cardiff City dugout next season, there are guaranteed to be changes in the dressing room.

For the moment, the question of whether Erol Bulut will stay on as Cardiff’s manager remains unanswered.

But whether Bulut signs a fresh contract or makes way for yet another new boss, there will be fresh faces within the playing squad.

Cardiff said farewell to five loan players at the end of their season, while more exits are likely whenever the club’s retained list is revealed.

With holes to fill in the playing squad, BBC Sport Wales assesses what Cardiff will be looking for in the summer transfer window.

As you were between the posts?

The goalkeeping department is perhaps the only one within Cardiff’s squad which, as things stand, looks unlikely to see any significant changes in the next couple of months.

The Championship club signed Nottingham Forest’s Ethan Horvath on a long-term deal in January and the USA international has done a sound job.

Jak Alnwick had also been a consistent performer before a knee injury curtailed his season, meaning Cardiff look to have two solid options when it comes to their last line of defence.

Centre-back on the wanted list

Cardiff’s top priority when it comes to potential defensive additions this summer is likely to be a centre-back.

Dimitrios Goutas and Mark McGuinness formed a strong partnership for much of last season.

When McGuiness picked up a significant hamstring injury, Nat Phillips stepped up and showed why he has been on Liverpool’s books for eight years.

Phillips, 27, has now returned to Anfield after a successful loan spell, but it is not inconceivable that he will return next season.

If they cannot get Phillips back, Cardiff will have to look elsewhere for a replacement, unless they decide Ryotaro Tsunoda can step up and fill a regular first-team role.

Tsunoda signed for the club in January but was immediately sent on loan to Belgian side KV Kortrijk.

There is also a gap to be plugged after the conclusion of Josh Wilson-Esbrand’s spell on loan from Manchester City.

Joel Bagan is due back at Cardiff in pre-season after a loan spell with Belgian club Zulte Waregem, and it may be that he is viewed as sufficient competition for Jamilu Collins at left-back.

The Bluebirds, meanwhile, must wait to see if interest in Perry Ng – their player of the year in the last two seasons – amounts to any significant offers.

Should he end up departing, Ng will take some replacing.

Sawyers exit to leave a gap?

Cardiff are yet to reveal whether Romaine Sawyers, who was a fringe figure in 2023-24 but is a respected senior professional, will be offered a new contract.

Should the midfielder depart when his current deal expires next month, Cardiff will have more room for manoeuvre in an area where they have some depth already.

Manolis Siopis, Joe Ralls and Ryan Wintle are all under contract for at least one more season, as are more forward-thinking players such as Rubin Colwill, January recruit David Turnbull and Aaron Ramsey.

Cardiff will have fingers crossed that the Wales captain, 33, can play a much bigger role in 2024-25 having managed just club 13 appearances since Ramsey returned to his boyhood club last summer.

The likes of Ebou Adams and Andy Rinomhota are due back in pre-season after loan spells at Derby County and Rotherham United respectively.

It remains to be seen whether either player will get another chance to try to impress Bulut – or indeed a different Cardiff boss.

Fresh faces needed in attack

Only eight of the Championship's 24 clubs scored fewer league goals than Cardiff last season, and that was despite the Bluebirds’ menace at set-pieces.

If they are to make further progress up the second-tier table in 2024-25, Cardiff must find more attacking threat.

There are plenty of gaps in their forward line, with Karlan Grant, Josh Bowler and Famara Diedhiou all heading back to their parent clubs after loan spells, while out-of-contract winger Sheyi Ojo is unlikely to be offered a new deal.

There has also been speculation about the possibility of Callum Robinson being allowed to leave this summer.

Isaak Davies is due back at Cardiff next season after scoring 12 goals while on loan with Belgian top-flight strugglers Kortrijk and, at 22, the Welshman may have a better chance of securing regular football at the club where he came through the academy.

But with so many forward players already gone, Cardiff are in need of new faces.

Ideally, they would like a striker with proven Championship credentials – so another bid to re-sign Kieffer Moore should not be ruled out.

Even if Moore returns, Cardiff will want further reinforcements to join the likes of Kion Etete, Yakou Meite and youngster Cian Ashford as options in attack.