The Chronicle have reported today that Rafa Benitez will make the signing of a centre-back (or two) one of his main priorities this summer, as he looks to build a squad capable of competing in the Premier League.
Ciaran Clark’s place in this NUFC side looks nailed on, but aside from the Irishman there are doubts over each of our remaining centre-halves.
Jamaal Lascelles’ potential must be nurtured next season, whilst Rafa appears to have trust issues over Chancel Mbemba. Grant Hanley has done a job in the Championship, but I imagine he will be moved on this summer, with the pace of the Premier League likely to see him out of his depth.
With this in mind, it’s easy to see why Benitez is prioritising a centre-back this summer.
Here’s 5 players who could be available this summer that NUFC would be wise to look at:
A player we’ve been credited with an interest in & one who could be available this summer – especially if Hull go down.
He’s a big unit but is surprisingly capable & confident on the ball. He looks to be a real leader and has been key to Hull’s revival under Marco Silva.
Would be a great buy & one I hope we pursue.
2. Nathan Ake
Will be seeking a move this summer if he isn’t guaranteed first team opportunities at Chelsea.
At 5ft 11 he isn’t an imposing centre-half, but what he lacks in brawn he makes up for in talent. He’s athletic, reads the game well and has superb technical ability.
An ambitious suggestion but a star in the making with huge potential.
3. Ben Gibson
Looks set to leave Middlesborough should they be relegated.
He’s tough in the tackle, wins his battles and is comfortable with the ball at his feet. At 24 he looks to have the makings of a very good CB.
He’s been linked with the big boys but could be tempted to remain in the North-East should Rafa come calling.
4. Kurt Zouma
Another ambitious one, but a player Chelsea are set to loan out next season according to reports.
A mountain of a man and centre-back who’s progress was halted after he suffered a horrific knee injury last year.
He’s a player with big potential and one NUFC had showed an interest in during his time with St Etienne.
Worth a shot given Rafa’s Chelsea links & Zouma’s hunt for first team football.
With Leeds facing another year in the Championship after missing out on the play-offs, Jansson could be looking for a Premier League move.
The 6ft 4 Swede has been outstanding for Leeds this season, helping Gary Monk’s side to 15 clean sheets.
He was superb in Leeds’ 1-1 draw at St. James’ last month and looks to be commanding in the air, a tough tackler and a real character who could thrive on a move to Tyneside.