Rafa Benitez has suggested that his primary focus is on the potential arrival of a striker, number 10, left-back and goalkeeper this winter, however states that the club are tracking players in “every position” to cover our backs incase any unseen events occur.
It’s widely known that the gaffer didn’t land several of his top targets over the summer, and whilst six did arrive, there are still areas of the squad that’ve been left weaker than he would like.
Speaking to the press, Benitez has opened up about the areas he’s looking to bolster this winter – having failed to land targets in these areas in the summer window:
“We have time so we can work on the keeper and the striker and the No 10”
“Are we looking for competition for Perez? Yes. We are looking for competition in every position,”
“If we can bring someone to compete with Dummett [in January], it will be fine [too] but at the moment I’m happy with the job the others are doing.”
Benitez’s search for competition in the number 10 role is a relief to myself and so many other Newcastle fans, with a feeling that the struggling Ayoze Perez continues to be picked due to the lack of alternatives as much as anything else.
A new striker could also be deemed necessary, with lingering doubts over the current trio of Joselu, Gayle and Mitrovic.
Rafa then talked about their approach to the January window, discussing where we are at ahead of a window than has often proved difficult to deal in:
“We have a new ‘shed’, or office, for the scouting department,”
“They are already working because it’s what you have to do. It doesn’t matter if the transfer window is not open, then you still have to be ready to bring in players and be looking.
“We are working on what we have to do, what we would like to do, but you never know.
“But imagine in December you have an injury, then you are expecting more money on a certain player, then you have to spend however much money for a striker because they are more expensive.
“I think for us now, we have names and we have options and are following players. We have as much information as we can for everyone.
“Everything is more complicated than it seems. We try to analyse sometimes too many things, but you can be lucky that sometimes you sign a player who is not fit or doesn’t have a good record, but then he comes here, settles down and does well and starts scoring goals.”
The gaffer sounds prepared as ever ahead of the new window, but whether he will be backed is a different matter entirely. Ashley’s clearly intent on selling, so he’d be even more unlikely to loosen his purse strings if the club was still his at the turn of the year.
Nevertheless, it’s good to see Benitez a need for added competition at left-back, striker and in the number 10 role – three areas of the pitch that have the potential to let us down over the coming season.
His interest in a goalkeeper remains – which is an odd one given Elliot’s form and Woodman’s clear potential – but with Sels flopping, Krul sold and Darlow expected to leave, there’s some logic behind his wish for another option in net.