Rafa Benitez is understood to be prioritising the signing of a striker in next month’s January transfer window, however stories from the Chronicle and Shields Gazette this week have also revealed that he would also like to add a left-back, ‘experienced’ goalkeeper , ‘number 10‘ and defensive midfielder to our ranks this winter.
It’s been suggested that the gaffer is yet to have any assurances over the budget he is set to receive, with things STILL appearing to be slightly up in the air ahead of next month’s crucial transfer window.
That won’t stop the Spaniard from planning however, and it seems he will focus on these five areas – which most fans will agree are in dire need of strengthening.
Here’s snippets taken from the Shields Gazette and The Chronicle this week, stating the five positions Rafa hopes to invest in this winter:
“Benitez is keen to add a striker to his ranks this winter. In an ideal world the Spaniard would also like to sign a left-back, an experienced goalkeeper and a No 10. But, having not had any assurances about what budget he is likely to receive in January, things remain up in the air.”
“Benitez will prioritise strengthening elsewhere first, but ideally he would also like to bring in a holding midfielder.”
Goalkeeper: An ‘experienced’ stopper is said to be on his wish list. With Darlow doing little to impress and Benitez clearly wanting competition for Elliot, could we see him rekindle his interest in Pepe Reina? West Ham’s Adrian would be a good alternative, but they surely wouldn’t sell to a potential relegation rival.
Left-back: Paul Dummett is just about back from injury, but he’s the only real left-sided full-back we have at the club (and even he is a centre-back converted into a left-back!). A loan move for Luke Shaw has been touted, but Bristol City’s Joe Bryan or Chelsea’s Kenedy may be more likely options.
Defensive midfielder: Isaac Hayden is our most natural defensive midfielder, but he is inexperienced at this level and should not be relied upon. Merino may be combative and hard working, but his talents would be wasted screening the back four, whilst Shelvey is certainly not a natural ball winner. An experienced campaigner with Premier League know-how is needed. Michael Carrick? James McCarthy?
No.10: This was a problem all of last season and Ayoze Perez hasn’t done enough (from an offensive point of view) to make it his own so far this season. Might Rafa return for Fulham’s Tom Cairney or former Tottenham midfielder Lewis Holtby?
Striker: No surprise that this is Rafa’s ‘priority’ this winter, but with our budget likely to be limited and the inflated market to contend with, a loan arrival looks the most obvious solution. There’ll be calls to bring in Chelsea’s Michy Batshuayi, but Liverpool’s Danny Ings seems much more realistic (unfortunately).