With football often stated to be a religion in Newcastle and Benitez just unable to perform a premier league survival miracle at the end of last season…Rafa has turned to Jesus. That’s right, Spanish full back Jesus Gamez looks set to sign for Newcastle before the weekend. It could be a terrific signing for Newcastle as they look to replace Daryl Janmaat before allowing the Dutchman to leave for pastures new.
Benitez knows, as we all do, that Newcastle desperately need defenders. Janmaat always looked likely to leave United following the club’s demotion from the top flight and is indeed expected to go this summer. Gamez will be a good replacement, and at 31 years of age, he will provide the Newcastle back line with much needed experience. Following the departures of long serving Newcastle centre-halves Steven Taylor and Coloccini, Newcastle have only one defender on their books born in the ‘80s…Janmaat, who turns 27 later this month.
So an experienced head was very much a priority and Gamez, who will arrive from Atletico Madrid, provides just that. He may not have any experience of English football but that hasn’t put Benitez off. Gamez is a strong defender who shouldn’t struggle with the physicality of the Championship.
And at 31, he will be more than capable of playing at the top level next season should Newcastle win promotion as targeted. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves, Gamez will be seen as a key player in the promotion push as Benitez will look to his countryman to add defensive strength and knowhow at fullback. Far too often last season, Newcastle’s centre backs were left woefully exposed by marauding full backs bombing forwards under McClaren’s misguided instruction.
It is another positive move in a busy transfer period for Benitez and more incomings and outgoings are expected. More defenders will doubtlessly follow with Blackburn’s captain Grant Hanley hotly tipped to also arrive. Leadership qualities and experience of the Championship will be beneficial to Newcastle’s campaign but there will be questions as to whether he can push on and perform at Premier League level. To be fair, the future of Newcastle’s defence lies with Lascelles and Mbemba, other players will be added to provide support and depth.
With plenty more players expected to leave Newcastle, it is refreshing to see United sign replacements for players quickly or even before the outward player is allowed to leave. No more situations like the Andy Carroll fiasco where Newcastle were left desperately short in a key area. Rafa is far too shrewd for that and this summer already has a much more measured feel about it. As fans though we can look to a higher power; after all, as we pray for more signings, Jesus will be passing an angel on the A1 before arriving at our church, named after a saint.