With four signings secured some momentum is finally arriving to Newcastle’s summer recruitment drive. Although none have been the big name signings fans crave, they may prove to be useful additions. That being said, Rafa and the club will be aware our biggest moves are yet to come and the spine of the side still clearly needs work. Which areas should be a priority to strengthen until the window slams shut at the end of August?
After wearing the armband against Preston and Bradford, Shelvey’s influence at Newcastle on the rise after an impressive season in the Championship. One problem we had last year was replacing him when he was missing, mainly due to his ill-discipline. We don’t have a player like him, with other options like Hayden, Colback and Saivet being far more defensively minded – as does the seemingly imminent arrival of Mikel Merino.
Isaac Hayden had a promising first season at Newcastle and at 22, has time to further improve. Newcastle are clearly in the market for a holding midfielder (Merino) as well as backup to Shelvey, just to take the pressure off Hayden. James McCarthy has been linked but a £25m price-tag is far from tempting. Gvien Benitez’s fondness to dip into the Spanish market, Gabriel Pires may be a considered as a creative option, but we certainly need reinforcements here. Colback and Diame could yet be axed this summer, along with Saivet, so bodies are needed along with some quality.
This is arguably Newcastle’s biggest dilemma and problem position at the moment. With Rafa favouring a 4-2-3-1 formation, it is central to his plans and success on the pitch next season. Last year, Diame and Perez mainly played there with neither really making the position their own. Diame just did not score enough goals to justify sacrificing the extra firepower of a 4-4-2 and he was just as effective in the deeper central midfield role. Ayoze again flattered to deceive, despite finishing the season strongly.
We do have De Jong coming back from a loan spell but his abysmal fitness record suggests we can’t hang our hopes on him next year. I think Rafa may use Perez as a backup striker and Diame as a backup centre midfielder, leaving De Jong as a rotation option for the number 10 role. Whether his thoughts, Rafa will want a quality addition brought in here. Match winners like Sigurdsson appear to be out our reach as the market spirals out of control but we could do with someone who can link the play and provide ammunition for Gayle, who needs service to be effective.
As the old saying goes, goals win games. Newly promoted sides find scoring enough goals to win games as the biggest challenge to acclimatising to the top flight. Gayle carried us over the line last year with 23 goals but doubts remain if he replicate anywhere near this total in the Premier League. There are countless examples of strikers scoring in the Championship to then not deliver against better opposition.
Gayle showed some promise of scoring in the top flight with Palace but was never really trusted to be their first choice striker. He is certainly someone we need to keep and is our most potent attacking option but we need a proven striker too. Rafa will know this and even looking at our downfall in the 2015/6 season, Mitrovic and Cisse didn’t score regularly enough to keep us up.
We need to break our transfer record to get that top level 15+ goal striker needed to help us compete next year. A marquee striker is always a massive boost to the fans too and even the loan signing of someone like Batshuayi would do the trick, if we can pull it off. We may actually need two strikers with Murphy leaving and Mitrovic seemingly heading for the exit door.
Which areas do you want to see NUFC strengthen? And you would be your ideal signings?