Regardless of which league Newcastle are in by the time August rolls around, the lure of 52,000 baying Geordies will always have its own, unique attraction. Only time can tell just how effective it can be in persuading the greatest European talents, which is exactly what the powers at Newcastle must do to honour the club’s great past with a promising future.
Whether relegated in May or not, Newcastle will need to bolster the current attacking line-up. By virtue of sheer size alone, Newcastle will always have the air of a club about to embark on an exciting long-term project – at least from a neutral perspective. Nonetheless, the club remains one in repair, limiting the options realistically available this summer, especially if the worst should happen. Mike Ashley and Rafael Benitez, both of whom have uncertain futures at Newcastle, have not seen eye to eye in recent months.
At the very least, however, they should both see a number of standout Championship and Scottish Premier League players as fair game, should talents from the elite leagues of Europe prove elusive this summer.
Here are just a few, rated:
The Frenchman has suffered from ‘second season syndrome’ at Celtic Park. However, that has not stopped him being subjected to a lot of transfer speculation in his short career so far, giving him an eye-opening transfer value. The 21-year-old has only scored 0.33 goals per game in 2017/18, which is a big contrast to last season when he scored 0.65 goals per game, with 32 from his 49 games. If he ever did leave Celtic for St James Park, however, logic dictates that he would only entertain joining a Newcastle side enjoying the riches of the Premier League. Though this season has led him to search his soul, Dembélé would unquestionably add some much-needed pace and creativity to Newcastle’s front line – even if the degree of opposition would hike drastically.
RATINGS: Realism 3/5, Potential 2/5, Value for money 2/5 – TOTAL: 7/15
Leo Bonatini may be plying his trade in Wolverhampton with the Wolves but, as noted on Transfermarkt, he still belongs to the Saudi Arabian club Al-Hilal. His goals per game ratio of 0.38 is good, and one of the main reasons that Wolves are priced as odds-on at 1/8 to win the Championship. He can, however, be wasteful on occasion, with a shot accuracy of only 48%. That noted, his pass completion of 82% though shows he could be an asset for Newcastle in holding the ball up and bringing others into play.
RATINGS: Realism 4/5, Potential 3/5, Value 3/5 – TOTAL: 10/15
Where the ideal of ‘young’ and ‘raw’ talents is concerned, Jarrod Bowen, the first Championship ‘player of the month’ in 2017/18, is also a name for Benitez to entertain. Hull’s relegation has been his professional salvation and, with 0.38 goals per game in an otherwise mediocre squad, he will be on the radar of several other top-flight clubs. Indeed, should Hull be relegated to League One, then his services could be acquired at a snip – provided that the signing manager could look past the conspicuous absence of assists as the 2017/18 Championship entered March.
RATINGS: Realism 5/5, Potential 4/5, Value 4/5 – TOTAL: 13/15
The bottom line
Relegation can only hinder Newcastle if the board sanctions the pursuit of these players – but not fatally so, with Rafael Benitez giving a positive update on his immediate future in recent weeks. The Magpies have now bounced back on the first attempt twice in the past decade, and it is a testament to just how much innate power a club’s stature can prove to be. With varying Newcastle regimes seeing a lot of money wasted on relative unknowns from foreign leagues, a return to basics could be the key as a ‘giant’ of football continues to sleep.