Newcastle today confirmed the signing of Florian Lejeune, which will hopefully signal some traction in the market and more signings to follow.
Such a long drawn out process for a £8.7m deal raises the question as to what Rafa’s budget is for this window and whether he will have to raise more capital from current players. Which first team players could be sold to boost our transfer kitty?
Aleksandar Mitrovic – £8-10m
A fan favourite due to his attitude and commitment, Mitrovic hasn’t quite shown the goal scoring prowess we hoped for when we coughed up £13m for his services in the summer of 2015. Still young, he has plenty of time to improve and as his recent performances for Serbia have shown, he has ability. However, his NUFC future looks ominous.
Overlooked for most of the season in favour of Dwight Gayle, it is hard to imagine him lining up in the Premier league as our first choice striker next season. Gayle’s goals effectively won us promotion and with Rafa wanting additional and quicker strikers for his favoured 4-2-3-1 formation, something has to give.
A loan deal has been mooted but you get the feeling he isn’t in Rafa’s plans and United will want to re-coup as big a fee as they can.
Chancel Mbemba – £8-10m
Mbemba is in a similar position to Mitrovic – another player with potential, with the pair having arrived from Anderlecht for a sizeable fee two years ago.
Again like Mitrovic though, last season wasn’t a good one for Mbemba as he was firmly a backup choice behind Clark and Lascelles. With Lejeune confirmed and Hanley likely to leave, it will be interesting to see if he can play his way back into the team or remains a squad player this term.
In the current market he could realistically bring NUFC a good fee, or at least close to the £8m we paid for him. With Rafa wanting numerous signings, he could be one to be shipped out.
Mo Diame – £3-5m
Mo Diame was brought in effectively and Sissoko’s replacement and came with pedigree in both the Championship and the Premier League. After hitting double figures in Hull’s promotion campaign, Diame was a good signing and at a low fee due to his release clause.
Now 30, and following an inconsistent season in black and white, he faces a battle to retain his place in the side. Number 10 is a key position in Rafa’s system and somewhere that will be strengthened this summer, after Diame failed to make the role his own.
We, of course, need strength and depth next year and Diame is one who has proven himself previously at a high level. However, he is one who may just be sacrificed to raise revenue and you imagine there would be plenty of takers, especially ambitious Championship sides.
Karl Darlow- £5-7m
Last year was Darlow’s chance to establish himself as NUFC’s number 1 after some good displays towards the back end of the 15/16 season. He initially started on the bench and behind new signing Mats Sels but after some poor displays from the Belgian, again found himself as first choice.
He made some brilliant saves at key times and some good performances, such as saving two pens at Forest, showed his excellent shot stopping abilities. He is however prone to errors and sometimes lacks the aerial skills or commanding presence needed of a top keeper.
Rafa called Rob Elliott back into the side for the end of the Championship campaign and with us clearly searching for a new goal keeper, Darlow may just be sold. His relatively young age may also mean he commands a higher fee than Elliott, which may come into Rafa’s thinking.
Newcastle are notoriously good sellers under Ashley when it comes to recouping fees for players. Rafa will be assessing all options to increase his transfer budget and although all of the above are good players that you’d ideally want to keep in the squad, don’t be surprised to see some of them depart this summer.