According to the Chronicle, Rafa Benitez is still hoping to do ‘significant business’ once Kenedy’s arrival is confirmed, with the Spaniard keen to sign a striker, winger, number 10, left/right back cover and a centre-back in in the final month of the window.
With just Dubravka, Ki and Kenedy signed so far, this seems like an ambitious target, although we are bound to see more real movement now the World Cup is reaching its end – with clubs all scrambling to get deals done (both in and out) before the window shuts on August 9th.
One thing that seems clear is that player sales will be essential if we wish to do this much business over the next few weeks. It’s possible, but Benitez will have to hope the likes of Mitrovic, Merino, Mbemba, Sels, Lazaar and co. are moved on to raise funds, reduce the wage bill and create space in and round the squad.
Here’s a closer look at the areas Rafa looks set to pursue according to the Chronicle, including a snippet from their latest piece and our thoughts on each position set to be targeted:
A striker – or two?
“If Mitrovic was to be sold soon, then there is a chance Benitez could even sign two strikers this summer – but, at this stage, United fans would gratefully welcome a solitary forward addition.”
This will be the biggest test of Ashley’s ambition this summer. Plea now looks unlikely (he’s off to Germany) and the likes of Rondon don’t strike me as the proven goalscorer we so badly need. Selling Mitrovic ASAP could do us a huge favour here.
Kenedy AND Townsend?
“Kenedy is not the only winger who could potentially return to St James’ Park this summer – with Andros Townsend also on Benitez’s wanted list.
“Crystal Palace are open to selling the 26-year-old, who Benitez has wanted during each of the past three transfer windows, too.
“At the moment it looks like Palace will demand in excess of £17m for the England international – and that is likely to mean Matt Ritchie will need to be sold if Townsend is to return.”
It seems clear that Rafa would cash in on Ritchie if it facilitated Townsend’s return. It would be an exciting prospect to have both him and Kenedy down each wing next season, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Rafa ended up pursuing other priorities.
Yedlin competition and cover for Dummett
“At the moment, Newcastle only have Paul Dummett, DeAndre Yedlin and Javier Manquillo who are out-and-out full-backs in their first-team squad.
“Following the release of Jesus Gamez and Massadio Haidara, and with Chancel Mbemba certain to be sold this summer, Benitez needs significant reinforcements at full-back.
“He wants a right-back who he believes can challenge Yedlin for a first-team place, and would ideally also like to sign a versatile defender who can provide cover.”
Yedlin may be improving (and he’d be a very good squad player) but it’s probably fair to say he’s one of the weakest players in our starting 11. Dummett is reliable, but he could do with someone who could offer far more reliably cover than the likes of Haidara, Lazaar and Manquillo have in recent years.
A natural number 10 – a problem position at NUFC
“The problem position Benitez would also like to solve this summer is the No 10 role.
“The Spaniard has sought an attacking-midfielder for the best part of two years in order to challenge Perez for a starting berth, but as of yet his search has proven fruitless.”
Perez ended the season superbly, but I still don’t see him as a natural number 10. He’s got a goalscorer’s instinct, but he’s not the creative force we need in that area of the pitch. Signing someone to give him some much needed competition could be key to keep him on his toes.
A centre-back to replace the departing Mbemba
‘With Mbemba set to depart, Newcastle will only have three out-and-out centre-back options in Florian Lejeune, Jamaal Lascelles and Ciaran Clark – and, even though Hayden can play in such a position, Benitez would ideally like another versatile defensive option.”
Our thoughts – This one will probably be low down our priority list, but it would just take an injuries to Lejeune and Lascelles to leave us having to draft in Dummett ad Hayden at centre-back. A promising young defender keen to fight for his place or experienced defender happy to ‘do a job’ when called upon would make sense?
We’re facing a race against time – especially when you consider that any ‘big deals’ are yet to be done – but it seems like Rafa is spinning plates here, there and everywhere in a bid to get as many of these deals done as possible.