Rafa Benitez cut a frustrated figure at the end of this summer’s transfer window, having been handed limited funds by Mike Ashley and seeing several top targets fall by the wayside.
He did still manage to bring six players in and here we’ve ranked our summer signing based on their start to life at Newcastle United:
6. Jacob Murphy
The England U-21 winger arrived from Norwich in a deal worth £12m. He bagged 13 goals 6 assists in Norwich’s 2016/17 Championship campaign and has clear potential, but the early signs suggest he’s not ready just yet and will require real patience on our part.
His only league start was at Swansea – a game he struggled to impose himself on, seeing him substituted before the hour mark. Aside from that, he’s played just 20 minutes of football for us in three ineffective cameos against Huddersfield, West Ham and Southampton.
He needs time, but given he was our most expensive signing at £12m, it is a slight concern to see him show so little whenever he’s brought on. Yes he has barely been given a chance, but the fact he has been given so few opportunities suggests he isn’t doing enough to impress Rafa Benitez.
5. Javier Manquillo
The Spanish full-back arrived for a fee in the region of £4m from Atletico Madrid. Given his disappointing spells on loan at Sunderland and Liverpool in the past, there wasn’t a great deal to suggest he was up to playing at Premier League level, however he’s done a relatively good job whenever he’s been called upon thus far.
He filled in at right-back in Yedlin’s absence early in the season and has shown his versatility in recent weeks by doing a decent job at left-back in draws against Liverpool and Southampton.
Manquillo looks comfortable with the ball at his feet and likes a foray forward, but has switched off a few times defensively. That being said, he’s looked better than some may have expected and is looking a decent piece of business.
After struggling to Stoke, Rafa took a punt on the Spanish striker to beef up our attacking options. He’s never been prolific when you look at his career stats and whilst his early form suggests he won’t be scoring 15 goals plus for us anytime soon, he has most definitely done a job in the side so far.
He’s scored two goals in 6 starts – missing a few chances along the way – but has also put in a real shift for the team and putting himself about up top.
His finishing will have to improve, but he is providing a focal point for us up top and his efforts and commitment to the cause can’t be questioned.
3. Christian Atsu
Atsu looked hit and miss during his spell at the club on loan in the Championship last season, and whilst he has hardly set the world alight in the Premier League since signing permanently from Chelsea over the summer, he’s certainly improved and given us something.
He looked like a different player over pre-season and has been one of our most threatening outlets on the counter attack across several games this season. His final ball is still inconsistent and he can frustrate, but he is another who works hard for the team whilst offering us some pace and directness in attack.
Given quite a few of us had doubted his ability to mix it in the top flight, you can’t knock his performances so far.
2. Florian Lejeune
After only completing his first full game for us at Southampton on Sunday you’re probably wondering how Lejeune is ranked as high as 2nd.
A fair observation, but I’ve been so impressed by just about everything I’ve seen from him so far and I genuinely believe he’ll become a valuable player for us in the weeks and months to come.
He was arguably our most impressive player over pre-season, looked assured on his Premier League debut against Spurs before coming off injured and was a contender for man of the match against Southampton if it wasn’t for his unfortunate error.
At 6ft 3′ he’s commanding in the air, but he looks equally capable on the floor, appearing to be very comfortable with the ball at his feet. He seems to read the game well and looks capable of bringing an air of calm and class to our back line.
He’ll learn from Sunday’s moment of madness at Southampton and become one of our key players before long I think.
1. Mikel Merino
To say this man has been good is an understatement. Few knew much about the Spanish U-21 international when he arrived on loan from Borussia Dortmund over the summer, but he’s not taken long to look right at home in English football.
He has an elegance about him and real quality on the ball, however the key with Merino is his ability to do the dirty work too. He has made more tackles and interceptions than any other Newcastle United player and runs himself into the ground every week.
An incredible piece of business and an outstanding young talent. To have signed him on a permanent deal last week was a huge relief.
Next up comes Roy Hodgson’s Crystal Palace and a game where we could well see five of these six summer signings start (with only Murphy looking certain to miss out once again).
Given our string of promising performances so far this season, we look to be an attractive prospect for those who bet on sport and play casino online ahead of Saturday’s game with Crystal Palace’