The transfer window is fast approaching and it will be the biggest indication yet of the short term ambition at the club.
The January transfer window was busy, but it was focused on staying in the division. Without that immediate pressure, the club can target players for the long term and it should be easier to recruit our first choice targets.
Although there is money to spend, the club will need to recruit smartly and some attention to be paid to the players with expiring contracts.
Below, we list five domestic players out of contract this summer that the club should be looking at.
There were links to James Tarkowski earlier this season, therefore it would be expected that we are in the mix for his signature this summer. The Burnley defender has established himself as a very good Premier League centre back, with plenty of experience in the division.
He was once spoken about as a £25 million player, so it would make sense to bring him in on a free. The club will look to strengthen their defensive options this summer and Tarkowski would add depth to the position.
Tarkowski has played over 150 times in the Premier League and picked up two England caps along the way. At the age of 29, he should be entering the peak years of his career.
The one issue may be his suitability to Eddie Howe’s system, as he isn’t known for his ball-playing ability, but that could be a result of the system he is playing in.
As he is out of contract, it could be worth pursuing as a replacement for Jamaal Lascelles. In a couple of years, he will still be worth £10-15m in the market, so there is some resale potential there, which appeals as we try to build under FFP restrictions.
This won’t be an easy deal to do. We have been linked by several media outlets and Christian Eriksen would add creativity to our midfield. Since returning to Brentford, he has stood out in West London and looks capable of consistently influencing Premier League matches.
He may not be available, as Brentford hope to keep him at the club. There is also interest from Tottenham, so we wouldn’t have a free run at him.
That said, he might like the idea of playing a part in the project at St James Park. Eriksen has 116 goal contributions in the Premier League, so it would be a coup should he arrive on Tyneside.
There is little potential for resale value, but Eriksen would bring star quality to the squad and immediately raise standards. The appeal is obvious.
This is a deal that we tried to do in January, but Manchester United were determined to keep him away from Tyneside. It is inevitable that we will be one of the clubs in the running to sign Jesse Lingard on a free.
Like Eriksen, he would add goals and creativity to our team. He can play a number of positions and that versatility would be a reason to sign him.
As he has been a bit part player at Old Trafford, there should be plenty of miles on the clock. His age of 29 is a little deceiving, as he should have a few more seasons left than the average player does at his age.
During his loan spell at West Ham last season, he contributed nine goals and four assists showing his quality in the final third. It may have been a hot streak, but he does have the quality to contribute regularly.
Lingard is also a very good presser without the ball. He would be a good fit for Howe’s Newcastle. He also has a point to prove and that makes him a more attractive signing. Recent reports suggest we could walk away over wage demands, but it could easily be a deal that comes back around over the summer.
Nketiah is another player we tried to sign in January, so it stands to reason that we will be in the race to sign him in the summer. It is rare for a 22-year-old like Nketiah to be available on a free transfer.
He has had limited minutes for Arsenal, but he has scored goals when he has played. Recently, he has been in the first team and playing well under Mikel Arteta. He scored a brace against Chelsea and he has been a standout performer in the matches against Manchester United and West Ham United.
This recent run of form shows that he can perform very well in the Premier League. Arsenal will try to keep him, but it is still expected that he will move on at the end of his contract.
This season, Nketiah has seven goals in all competitions at a rate of one every 116.1 minutes. At his age, it is a no-brainer to sign him on a free, as there is the potential to sell him for a significant profit, even if he doesn’t break into the first team.