Newcastle United enjoyed a solid first season back in the Premier League in 2017-18. Manager Rafa Benitez has done a masterful job at the club since coming on late in the 2015-16 campaign. He stuck with the side into relegation, helped them fight back into the England top flight and led them to a very respectable 10th-place finish this past term.
While avoiding relegation was the goal this past season, Newcastle can set their sights higher moving forward. It’s one of the most decorated clubs in the history of English football, so it makes sense that the Magpies should see themselves as viable contenders with clubs like Arsenal and Tottenham.
Benitez himself has been linked with a move to West Ham with David Moyes likely on the way out, but the manager has said publicly that he does not have interest in leaving Newcastle. If you’re looking to bet on where Benitez winds up next season, most books have odds heavily skewed toward him staying on Tyneside.
While the team’s brass will be happy with the job Benitez has done to this point, there is still certainly room for improvement. The club have been linked with several attacking targets already, and it’s safe to assume Benitez will do all he can to strengthen his side in the summer. Who are some midfielders in which Newcastle should have some interest?
Jack Wilshere (Arsenal)
It’s somewhat hard to believe that Jack Wilshere is still only 26. He made his debut for the England senior team at the age of 18, but now it’s looking as though the former starlet is on the outs after missing out on Gareth Southgate’s squad for the 2018 World Cup. It’s also fair to wonder whether his Arsenal career will be coming to an end soon, too.
Wilshere and Arsenal have yet to come to terms on a fresh contract, which could mean the midfielder is on his way out of the Emirates. Injuries have largely derailed his career to this point, but he showed this past season that he’s still capable of contributing when fit. It was reported in August of last year that Newcastle had some interest in the player, and it makes sense that Benitez and co. would renew their interest this summer after Wilshere played pretty well for Arsene Wenger.
Midfield was one of the weak spots of the Magpies’ regular side this season, so adding a player of Wilshere’s talent level would provide a boost. He won’t come cheap, however. Wilshere was reportedly earning £120,000 a week on his deal with Arsenal, but there’s plenty of reason why Newcastle should have interest.
Joe Allen (Stoke City)
Joe Allen was a part of the Stoke City side we just saw get relegated to the Championship. There’s no telling whether the 28-year-old Wales international will stay to play in the second tier but the new Stoke manager follow Paul Lambert’s sacking must hope he’ll stick around to fight for promotion. Allen does have three years left on his contract with the Potters, but he is expected to draw interest from some Premier League outfits.
Newcastle would do well to be one of them. Allen is far from an intimidating presence in the midfield, but the ex-Liverpool man has been able to prove his quality since making the move to Stoke in 2016. He’s bagged eight goals in 72 appearances with Stoke after scoring just four across his 91 games with Liverpool.
Considering he’s 28, Allen may be wondering whether he can afford to waste any of his prime years playing at lower levels. If he wants to get back into the Premier League, a move this summer is obviously necessary. If Allen isn’t convinced Stoke are a strong enough side to bounce immediately back into the top flight, he has some thinking to do.
Given Newcastle’s lack of strong midfielders, adding a player of Allen’s calibre would instantly provide credibility. Allen is a professional player that won’t make many mistakes out there. He’s hardly one to make a highlight reel, but you can do a lot worse if you’re Newcastle than picking up a player like him.
Jack Grealish (Aston Villa)
Grealish has finally emerged as a star this season in helping Aston Villa to the brink of promotion. Villa will face Fulham for the right to move into the Premier League. If Villa get through, Grealish may well stay on board. If they come up short, however, Grealish may look to move into the top flight.
Grealish was a star over the Villains’ two-leg victory over Middlesbrough, and he’s another player that won’t really come cheap. That said, Grealish is already a popular figure on Tyneside as his goal for Villa against Brighton helped Newcastle secure the Championship title in 2017. Newcastle players were even seen enjoying a drink with Grealish afterward.
Grealish isn’t a holding type like Allen, but he’s versatile enough to play attacking mid or out on the wing. Still only 22, expect Grealish to become one of the more sought-after young players on the market this summer if Villa are unable to secure promotion.
Quincy Promes (Spartak Moscow)
Promes, a Dutch international, unfortunately won’t get to showcase his talents at this summer’s World Cup, but he’s become something of a star this season despite playing in relative obscurity at Spartak Moscow.
Promes has bagged 21 goals in all competitions this season, and some of the more high-profile clubs in Europe have already reportedly registered interest. Newcastle is among them, with Roma and Tottenham Hotspur also reportedly poking around on the player.
Promes is another player that could come with a hefty price tag, as Spartak are expected to ask for around €25 million to secure his signature. The 26-year-old winger started his pro career with Twente in the Netherlands before making the switch to Spartak in 2014. He has scored a whopping 58 goals in 110 appearances with the club since.
Promes typically operates on the wing, as well.
Aleksandr Golovin (CSKA Moscow)
Aleksandr Golovin is far from a household name at this point, but he could be on the verge of stardom. The 21-year-old is set to feature for Russia as they host the World Cup this summer, so he might become a familiar figure in short order.
Golovin helped CSKA Moscow reach the quarter-final stages of this season’s Europa League, and he has drawn interest from bigger clubs around Europe as a result. His agent, Alexander Manyakov, believes it’s time for a tougher challenge. The agent said, “He needs to leave. As far as I know, there are offers from Premier League clubs but not from the top six. I know that Southampton and Newcastle are showing interest but he has a contract with CSKA.”
The central midfielder helped Russia’s U-17 side win the Euro U-17 championships in 2013, and he scored on his debut for Russia’s senior team in a 4-2 win over Belarus back in 2015. He broke into CSKA’s first team the following season and helped the side with the Russian league title. Golovin also featured for Russia at Euro 2016.
He signed a new deal in December of 2016 that will keep him in Moscow until 2021, but it now sounds as though he could be on his way out sooner rather than later. Golovin is versatile enough to play in a number of roles, but he attempts to model his game after Chelsea star man N’Golo Kante.