Newcastle’s recruitment drive sparked into life this week as goalkeeper Matz Sels signed and Dwight Gayle and Matt Ritchie arrived on Tyneside to complete their moves whilst Andros Townsend and Fabriccio Coloccini seem certain to depart. Phew…and breathe. So that’s a goalkeeper, forward and wide-man in and a centre half and a winger out. In, out…it’s like the EU referendum all over again.
You get the feeling that this is just the beginning of the Rafa reformation too as a host of other players should leave the club and replacements arrive. It’s mixed news so far. Sels is a ‘keeper who is held in quite high regard, narrowly missing out on the Belgium squad for the Euros. With Elliot still injured, Krul likely to leave and Woodman still developing, it seems like a good bit of business to bring in a ‘keeper to compete with Darlow for a starting place in between the sticks.
Gayle seems like a good signing too offering Benitez good options in the forward positions. It suggests that Riviere, Cisse or both might leave in the summer as Benitez reassembles his Newcastle squad before the promotion drive starts. Whilst Gayle may not the prolific striker many fans will have been hoping for, he is a good finisher and provides United with a different type of forward who can run in behind defences.
Matt Ritchie is a player who offers Newcastle plenty of experience at Championship level. He can play out on the right hand side or the left and has a rocket of a left foot. In many ways he is similar to Townsend and is a direct replacement. He’s just not quite at the same standard as Townsend. For that reason I think the widely reported transfer fee of £12m is a bit steep if we are to lose Andros for £13m.
To lose Townsend was probably inevitable. To lose him to Pardew’s Palace is downright annoying. You can’t blame him for wanting to play in the Premiership and a team was always going to take advantage of that release clause. The clause does mean that at least Newcastle won’t lose money on the deal unlike the regrettable Cabella and probable Thauvin situations.
And whilst many lament the departure of Andros, few will be shedding any tears for captain Colo’s departure. It’s been a difficult few years on Tyneside for Coloccini and a move back to his native Argentina always looked likely. He may have ended his career at Newcastle on a sorry note, but Colo still spent eight years at the club and deserves a little respect for his loyalty. The time is right though, for both Colo and Newcastle, for the defender to move home.
So after a busy couple of days, it really leaves Newcastle with one clear area to focus on…defence. Newcastle desperately need defenders. Where have we heard that before?