The rumour mill has well and truly started – I think Newcastle United have been linked with around 100 players in the month of June alone.
To begin with, it goes without saying that there is not one position in this squad that can’t be realistically improved.
Lots of numbers have been bandied around when it comes to transfer budget, everywhere from £50m-£150m. I honestly can’t see Newcastle spending over £70million this summer, I think that Rafa is much smarter than that. This is highlighted by the fact that loan signings seem to be high on the list, with Tammy Abraham the first main name mentioned so far. In all honesty, I don’t actually believe that there will be that many signings. I would be surprised if we signed more than five first team players.
While getting in sufficient numbers was a key plan last year, once the summer took shape it became obvious that Benitez wanted at least two players in every position. Instead, this summer I think there will be far more emphasis on quality rather than quality.
Surely it would be better to bring in three proper first team players for £20million each, who you know are going to be PL quality, rather than six players for £10million. Obviously there is a valid argument for both – but I can’t stress the importance of brining genuine quality in the squad this summer.
I am not going to give up much time to talk of a Chinese takeover until the new owners are parading through Stowell Street on an open top bus.
Instead, here is my idea of what Newcastle United’s summer signings could be, as well as who Rafa Benitez is most likely to keep.
Newcastle have an abundance of options in this department with no less than five goalkeepers who have some sort of shout for the no.1 jersey. I expect both Rob Elliott and Karl Darlow to be here at the start of the season. Matz Sels will probably be sent on loan to play football.
The difficult decisions lie with Tim Krul and Freddie Woodman.
We all know Krul is a keeper good enough for the Premier League, so it shouldn’t be a surprise if he starts next season as the number one. On the other hand, it shouldn’t be a surprise if he is the first one sold this summer. You just never know with Rafa, so watch this space.
Freddie Woodman has performed admirably at Kilmarnock and raised his reputation at the under 20 world cup, I expect him to go out on loan to a Championship side much like Forster and Krul in the past. Talk of him being no.1 by the Chronicle can only be described as ‘laughable clickbait’.
With no certain number 1 goalkeeper at the moment, I think a goalkeeper will be on Rafa’s shopping list this summer, as long as they are good enough.
I don’t believe any truth in the rumours which claimed that Jordan Pickford was wanted by Newcastle. This is especially so, given the fact that the original source of this rumour came from The Sun. Even if it was true, he wouldn’t come anyway.
UK Summer Targets: Eldin Jakupovic (Hull City) Joe Hart (Arsenal) Willy Caballero (Free Agent)
Other Targets: Pepe Reina (Napoli), Victor Valdes (Free Agent), Andre Onana (Ajax)
Yedlin will definitely stay and Vurnon Anita will leave on a free transfer. This means that a space will be open at right-back. I can’t see Rafa placing his trust in Kevin Mbabu, which means he is likely to venture into the transfer market for a right-back.
Could Jamie Sterry be given a chance? I doubt it, he didn’t impress enough at Coventry and sadly I don’t think he is good enough (but I hope he will prove me wrong).
UK Summer Targets: Bacary Sagna (Free Agent), Phil Jones (Man United) Kieran Tripper (Spurs)
Other Targets: Stephan Litchsteiner (Juventus), Florian Klein (Stuttgart)
I am sure that Paul Dummett will stay at the club and he deserves a chance to fight for his place next year. Lazaar will likely go out on loan in my opinion, he has been a poor buy and has not looked up to it in the very few games he has played. Massaidio Haidara will also leave the club.
Again, with no other left-back at the club, you would except Rafa to sign one. Ideally, to save money, we could do with a versatile full-back…Davide Santon anyone?
UK Summer Targets: Kieran Tierney (Celtic), Aaron Cresswell (West Ham)
Other Targets: Jonas Hector (Koln), Davide Santon (Inter Milan)
Newcastle started this season incredibly strong in the centre-back department and they ended it strongly too.
This was Rafa’s best decision in the summer, bulking up the squad with Hanley, Clark, Lascelles and Mbemba. It has been our most consistent position this past season, and it goes to show with the fact that at no point this season has a player who is not a centre-back actually played in the middle.
I think it is safe to say that Rafa will want four centre-halves again but you would imagine that at least one of Grant Hanley and Chancel Mbemba will leave in the summer. Talk of Florian Lejeune did appear to be close but that talk, much like Tammy Abraham, has gone very quiet very quickly.
UK Summer Targets: Ben Gibson (Middlesbrough), Callum Chambers (Arsenal), Michael Keane (Burnley), Tim Klose (Norwich)
Other Targets: Inigo Martinez (Real Sociedad), Janik Vestergaard (Bremen), Florian Lejeune (Eibar)
The need for another Jonjo Shelvey, to play alongside Jonjo Shelvey, is plain to see.
I have no doubt that Isaac Hayden has the potential to be a good Premier League player one day, however, he cannot be relied on week in, week out next season.
I also expect Jack Colback to stay at Newcastle, even if it is as a squad player. Away from home, Colback might have a big role to play in some big games next season, so don’t write him off just yet.
UK Summer Targets: Fabian Delph (Manchester City), James McCarthy (Everton), Tom Cairney (Fulham), Ruben Loftus Cheek (Chelsea).
Other Targets: William Carvalho (Sporting), Vincent Marchetti (Nancy), Maxime Gonalons (Lyon)
Matt Ritchie has been one of our most consistent performers this season and so he will be one of the players that will earn a place in this coming season’s starting eleven. On the other side I still feel like Yoan Gouffran is likely to leave, despite talks of a new contract.
UK Summer Targets: Andros Townsend (Crystal Palace), James McClean (WBA)
For me, Ayoze Perez and Mo Diame have been the two biggest let downs this season. Especially at home, our lack of creativity is where we have come up short against sides who seemed intent on parking the bus.
If we are to improve at home next season, a player who can unlock defences will be key.
UK Summer Targets: Gylfi Sigurddson (Swansea), Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (Arsenal), Josh King (Bournemouth), Aaron Mooy (Manchester City)
Other Targets: Iago Aspas (Celta Vigo), Ante Coric (Dinamo Zagreb)
Dwight Gayle will obviously stay at the club and I expect Daryl Murphy to be kept on for the last year of his contract as a bit-part player.
Obviously most of the talk will be about Aleksandar Mitrovic, who I think deserves one last chance to find his shooting boots. However, I think that he will leave in the summer. Although I can’t see anyone forking out the £12million+ we paid for him two seasons ago, which means he is likely to go out on loan.
As for Adam Armstrong, he hasn’t exactly shone at Barnsley this past season and I can’t see Rafa relying on him in the Premier League. I expect him to go out on loan, or it wouldn’t surprise me if a Championship team needing a centre forward stumped up £5m/£6m.
I personally hope we don’t sign Tammy Abraham. He has played one season in professional football for Bristol City, although he did score 23 league goals last season, so did Dwight Gayle, Chris Wood and Glenn Murray, and we know that they aren’t world beaters. I just don’t see him as being a good signing… but Rafa obviously knows best.
UK Summer Targets: Moussa Dembele (Celtic), Andy Carroll (West Ham), Andre Gray (Burnley).
Other Targets: Kevin Gameiro (A.Madrid), Santi Mina (Valencia), Paco Alcacer (Barcelona).
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