On the back of our most successful Premier League season in years, times are changing on Tyneside. With European football making a return to St. James’ Park, Newcastle now have the financial clout and the lure of continental competition to bring new players to the North East.
As we know all too well the Magpies are a club renowned for being linked with multiple players and for having our own linked with big money moves elsewhere. Despite our success this season, the sale of Andy Carroll last year means we need to stay on our guard and be prepared for any eventualities.
This being said, lets have a look at who Newcastle have been linked with in the build up to the opening of the Summer transfer window and where the club need cover going into next season.
An issue that Newcastle have been fortunate with since Steven Taylor’s season-ending injury against Chelsea in December. The club were close to signing Watford’s Adrian Mariappa in January but a deal failed to materialise and Newcastle were without a back-up central defender going into the second half of the season.
But the form of Mike Williamson and James Perch has inspired the club on to bigger and better things. Both players were regarded as not good enough for the first team but a run of games in defence helped shore the team up at the back and Newcastle had only conceded one goal in six games before Wigan.
Alan Pardew has been linked with a number of moves for players in Holland’s Eredivisie. Ajax captain Jan Vertonghen is one of the premier names that has been mentioned since the summer but is heavily rumoured to link up with his Belgian compatriot Thomas Vermaelen at Arsenal.
The Toon have also been linked with Vertonghen’s teammate Tobias Alderweireld and FC Twente’s Douglas. Both are relatively young and would add some much needed cover at the back and also push Fabricio Coloccini and Steven Taylor for places in the starting 11.
With Danny Simpson’s contract talks at a standstill there is also the possibility of the club reviving their interest in Erik Pieters. His agent recently told The Journal that there was interest last year and that he would be interested in discussing a move after Euro 2012.
Looking at Newcastle’s starting midfield players, there isn’t a whole lot that needs to be done. Jonas Gutierrez has proved his versatility time and time again playing on both wings, at left back and most recently as a central midfielder.
With the expected departures of a couple of names in midfield the Magpies could do with a couple of squad players to help bolster the side and cover injured players in what will be a long season for the team.
There are rumours that we have signed Romain Amalfitano from Ligue 2 side Reims, adding to our already successful French contingent.
I believe it would only take a big money signing to shift the balance that Pardew has found in his midfield, which is why I don’t expect any players to be brought in as starters – unless we lose one of them.
Now we come to quite a tedious issue. Although the signings of Papiss Cisse and Demba Ba have become revelations there is the, albeit unconfirmed, issue of a potential release clause in Ba’s contract. If it were true, it would only take a bid of roughly £8million to prise him away from St. James’ Park.
If Demba does leave, it puts Newcastle in the same position they were in at the start of this season – with only one star striker. Ideally Ba will stay but if he decides to jump ship and move to one of the ‘Big Four’ then Pardew will need to find a replacement.
We have been linked with pretty much every striker in Europe, so it’s difficult to speculate who we would be in for. The names Luuk De Jong (Twente) and Wilfried Zaha (Crystal Palace) have come up a few times this season, and Sky Sports have recently reported we are looking at Heung Min-Son from Hamburg – so believe what you will.
Of course all of this has to be taken with a pinch of salt. Transfers are almost impossible to predict, and with the lure of European Football anything can happen over the next few months.