Despite a big effort to bring in some added quality to his side over the past two transfer windows, Benitez was left disappointed more often than not, with Lee Charnley and co. unable to deliver several of Rafa’s top targets.
A year on and it’s fair to say some of them won’t be signing at St James’ Park anytime soon (e.g Tom Cairney after Fulham’s promotion), but there’s a few we tried to sign last summer (and in January) who could be back on Rafa’s radar this time around.
Here’s five to watch this summer:
Benitez was pushing to sign the Arsenal attacker during the final few days of the summer window last August, however he ended up returning home, joining Deportivo on loan. He’s been one of their standout players last season with 7 goals and 6 assists, but couldn’t stop them being relegated to the Spanish second division. He’ll return to Arsenal this summer, but I can’’t see him going back to Deportivo given their relegation and the financial implications that could with that. He’s a quality player, a hard worker and someone who has unfinished business in the Premier League, with many feeling he didn’t get enough chances at Arsenal despite often impressing when he was handed rare stars. Has plenty experience (which Rafa wants) and is able to play up top or in the number 10 role. One to watch.
Sky Sports credited us with interest in the Senegalese midfielder prior to his January move to Stoke, claiming we’d been tracking him during spells with both Osmalispor and Galatasaray in Turkey. He’s looked at home in the Premier League since his winter arrival, and although he couldn’t keep Stoke up, their relegation means Rafa may be able to snap him up this summer. I’d imagine he’d be keen to make the move too, having only had a brief taste of English football during his short-lived spell with Stoke. We need more central midfield options and, all things considered, I can see Benitez going back in for him.
A player Benitez was pushing to sign on loan from Chelsea last summer, but one that slipped through his finger tips – leaving him pretty unhappy with NUFC officials by all accounts. His time at Swansea has been very mixed (8 goals and 5 assists but struggling for game time in the second half of the season), but I maintain that he’s a very talented young player and someone who could do very well at NUFC. I don’t think NUFC fans would be keen on the idea of it, but I’d like to bet that Benitez makes another attempt to sign him this summer. He certainly won’t be going back to Swansea after their relegation.
It’s quite clear that Benitez wants added competition at left-back (especially with Haidara and Gamez also set to leave), and ex-Arsenal left-back Gibbs was someone he was believed to have looked at last summer. His £7m move to West Brom has ended in tears, however. Their relegation means a mass exodus is likely to follow and you’d think he’ll be one of several sacrificed. With us lacking competition for Paul Dummett and Premier League experience, I’d like to bet that Rafa has another look at Gibbs. His signing would certainly tick a few boxes.
The Ivory Coast winger was heavily linked with a move to Newcastle last summer, but instead left Angers to sign for Lille. His new side have endured a difficult season in France – escaping relegation narrowly in the end – however he’s been one of their shining lights in an otherwise poor season, scoring 14 and assisting 5 from out wide. Lille are said to be cash strapped, so he might just make the big move to England this time around if we paid up. I suspect there’d be plenty of interest, but he’s a player we’re bound to have our eye on given his superb season.
Anyone linked last summer who you reckon we could go back in for this time around? Let us know..