The hidden challenge facing NUFC this summer – Proof Christian Eriksen shouldn’t be a priority?

With the summer fast approaching, I think it is timely to look ahead at the transfer window.

It is hoped that it will have a transformative effect, helping us move into the top ten. The recent links to Christian Eriksen saw me suggest that a move for the Dane shouldn’t be a priority. That opinion wasn’t shared on social media and that has fuelled this piece.

There is no doubt that Christian Eriksen is an excellent player. He has had a huge impact at Brentford and he would add goals to our midfield. However, he wouldn’t be a priority for me and I will explain why below. It has nothing to do with the player. Rather, it is based on the challenges we will face in our squad building this summer.

Eddie Howe only has 25 Premier League squad spaces to offer and we are currently over-subscribed with three players outside of the squad. It is expected that Ciaran Clark, Jamal Lewis and Isaac Hayden leave the club this summer, as they are clearly not in Howe’s plans, but that won’t open up any spots in the squad.

Four players in the 25 man squad aren’t contracted past the summer of 2022. Of those, Matt Targett is on loan and Fabian Schar is expected to extend his deal. There have been media stories suggesting Targett could sign a permanent deal with us, but that is only speculation at this point. The other two players out of contract are Sean Longstaff and Paul Dummett. The pair are homegrown and new contracts haven’t been ruled out, but it might be the better idea to let them leave. This will open up two squad places.

Based on the above alone, left back will be a high priority this summer. If Targett is made permanent, that will help, but another will need to be signed. Unless Lewis is re-introduced to the first team squad. 

If Longstaff does leave, that will mean a midfielder can be signed to replace him in the current squad. The profile we are lacking most in our squad is a quality defensive midfielder. One that can break up play and launch attacks from deep with their passing range. If we manage to find the right profile, it could allow us to relieve others from some defensive duties. Kalvin Phillips has been linked and that would be the right sort of player to target. 

If Dummett and Longstaff leave this summer, two new players can be added to the squad. The club will want to sign more than two players, therefore moving players on will be crucial this summer.

The players that the club would look to move on will include Federico Fernandez, Matt Ritchie and Dwight Gayle. It won’t be easy, as the players may not be interested in a move and would rather stay on their big contracts given to them at the end of Mike Ashley’s tenure. The actions of the former owner towards the end of his time are going to cause problems in the short term. 

If we did manage to move all three on, we would then be in the position to sign a new centre back, a new winger and another striker, three positions that we are currently lacking in quality. 

Other players that the club may be open to moving on are Jamaal Lascelles, Javier Manquillo, Emil Krafth, Jonjo Shelvey, Jacob Murphy and Miguel Almiron. A lot of the incoming transfer business will be dictated by the players we manage to offload. 

I would like us to be able to prioritise at least one centre back, a defensive midfielder, a goal-scoring right winger and a striker. They are the positions that will have the biggest impact on our starting eleven. 

However, it won’t be as easy as signing players. We will need to offload players to make room and that will be the biggest challenge for the club this summer. The perilous situation dictated that players were left out of the Premier League squad in January. Eddie Howe won’t be so accommodating to doing the same next season. 

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