Following promotion to the Premier League, another extremely busy summer of transfer activity can be expected as Benitez looks to re-shape his squad ready for our top fight return.
Whilst there’ll be several changes, both to first team personnel and squad players, we can expect to see a large chunk of players from last season’s Championship campaign remain with us for the upcoming season.
With this in mind, I’ve picked out 3 Newcastle United players who I believe will struggle with the demands of the top flight next season:
With 23 goals last season, Gayle will be heading into next season full of confidence and a point to prove after failing to nail down a starting place with Crystal Palace in years gone by.
Gayle clearly has an eye for goal, but I expect him to find goals far harder to come by next season.
Over the past year his quick thinking and deadly finishing has often seen him be one step ahead of opposition defences. The Championship may be physical, but several of its centre halves lack the agility and athleticism of so many top-flight defenders, and that played into Gayle’s hands last season.
Next season Gayle will up against top defenders such as Laurent Koscielny, Virgil Van Dijk, David Luiz and Eric Bailly – defenders who are not only of supreme quality but also not short of the pace and athleticism so many Championship defenders often lacked.
Gayle is a bright striker with a Jermaine Defoe like instinct and next season will be a big test of his Premier League credentials.
I was delighted when we signed Mo Diame last summer. A cut-price deal and a player who had not only tore apart the Championship the season before with Hull, but one who’d regularly shown promise at Premier League level.
Almost 12 months later and we’ve witnessed him struggle in the second tier for large parts, raising serious doubts over his ability to deliver in the Premier League.
Having watched him at Wigan, West Ham and Hull as an avid spectator of all Premier League games, I often saw Diame as an explosive and dynamic talent, capable of beating his man and blasting home from 25 yards.
Unfortunately we’ve seen that all too infrequently over the past year, with loose touches and a lethargic displays leaving me wondering just what is going wrong with a player who’d impressed me so often in the past.
Diame will be 30 when the new season kicks off in August and I believe his age could be a real contributing factor towards his decline. At 30, he’s hardly old, but his game has so often relied on his box-to-box ability, immense strength and stamina.
If he’s becoming unable to deliver such qualities, his technical ability and nous doesn’t appear good enough to see him make enough of an impact on the team.
I really hope he turns it around next season, but if last season is anything to go by, Diame could be in for another fruitless campaign on Tyneside.
The 23-year-old showed maturity beyond his years when thrust into the team at the back end of our relegation season in 2015/16. He was everything we’d been crying out for – a no nonsense defender with heart and his head screwed on.
Whilst he has lead Newcastle to promotion and contributed to several away clean sheets last season, his play has created cause for concern on several occasions with some indecisive and shaky pieces of play.
Put him up against a big physical presence or a team that fire long balls into the box and he’ll clear up all day long, but when he’s ran at or is pulled out of position, he is way out of his comfort zone.
The Premier League is full of dynamic and skillful talents who could cause Lascelles no end of problems. He is young and has undoubted potential, but Lascelles is a player who may need to be nurtured next season.