Team Of Newcastle Transfer Targets Analysed…And A Sub
Newcastle have got off to a slow start in the transfer market and sceptical fans are once again doubting anyone will be brought in (bar Ayoze Perez from the Spanish Second Division).
Reports indicate manager Alan Pardew is looking to streamline his French connection with Sylvain Marveaux, Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa, Gabriel Obertan and Hatem Ben Arfa all up for sale, along with Steven Taylor and several former youth prospects (Shane Ferguson and Haris Vuckic).
Although many fans clamour for Ben Arfa to be kept on the books, and others also want to see Marveaux and Yanga-Mbiwa kept as part of next season’s squad, this list is made with the assumption Pardew gets his way and all five members of the first team are shipped out.
Ayoze Perez – Tenerife – £2m – Forward
The most pressing issue for Newcastle to address is their strike force, with the Magpies currently owning not one fit senior striker. Shola Ameobi’s contract has expired, Luuk De Jong failed to impress and Loic Remy has Champions League ambitions, leaving only the stricken Papiss Cisse, who will be out for months after kneecap surgery.
Ayoze Perez, 20, will at the very least supply some depth to the squad. The Spanish striker has scored 14 in 42 league games for Tenerife in the Spanish second division and is highly rated on the continent, with rumours of a £1.8m release clause. 16 goals in all competitions last season is a very respectable tally and the forward can play on either flank or through the middle.
Worrying for Newcastle fans will be the club’s prior failure to develop highly-regarded talent in the past. It was something of a coup when Vuckic signed for Newcastle but his development has since gone backwards (although he has had a poor injury record). Similarly Gael Bigiramana has failed to kick on, as has Olivier Kemen, Shane Ferguson and Sammy Ameobi.
Newcastle will definitely need a more established striker(s) but Perez could well come in handy.
Steven Caulker – Cardiff City – £8m-£10m – Centre Back
It has been well documented Pardew wants to bolster the English contingent within the Newcastle squad, despite apparently being keen to get rid of Steven Taylor. One of only two or three bright spots in a chaotic Cardiff season, Caulker played every game for the Bluebirds.
Tottenham Hotspur have a buy back clause for their former player but should Jan Vertonghen stay then Caulker is likely free to choose his future destination (albeit with Cardiff keen to keep hold of him). Pardew will doubtless like his no nonsense style (he averaged almost nine clearances a game last season) and he also chipped in with five league goals, more than Newcastle’s array of centre backs.
The Magpies will have to fight off interest from Liverpool, who are keen to sort out their defensive frailties and have Champions League football on offer.
Leroy Fer – Norwich City – £6m – Midfielder
With the January departure of Yohan Cabaye, Newcastle have been desperately short of numbers in midfield with also-ran Dan Gosling drafted in to bolster a three man midfield. Leroy Fer from Norwich would be a very astute signing, the Dutchman starting the season very well will four goals in 21 games before being sidelined with a hamstring injury.
The all-action midfielder led the Premier League’s tackle chart before his injury, and looked a real prospect for the Canaries, as a box-to-box midfielder averaging almost three tackles a game (for comparison Anita averaged 1.4 and Tiote 3.2).
Fer is also versatile, much like the missed Cabaye, he is capable of playing as a DM, CM or in a more advanced role (although one assist all season is not encouraging). Aged 24 he would fit Newcastle’s mantra of buying young and would prove a more than welcome addition to the squad.
Fabian Delph – Aston Villa – £10m-£12m – Midfielder
If Newcastle don’t go for Fer – and are willing to splash a bit more cash (unlikely) – Fabian Delph would be a fantastic signing for the club, although Aston Villa will be very reluctant sellers.
The midfielder, signed from Leeds for a rumoured £3.5m, came alive last season and was Villa’s star player (other than Benteke). A midfielder with great tenacity and energy, Delph can hit them from long range, something Newcastle have sorely missed since Cabaye left. Not only is he good going forward but Pardew will appreciate his defensive work, averaging 2.9 tackles and 1.7 interceptions a game.
Delph showed his defensive class in a 1-0 victory over Chelsea, playing on the left of a midfield trio he was simply magnificent, even with his team conceding possession 60%-40% to the Blues. The 24 year old still managed 60 touches, the most out of the Villains midfield. Not only did he score the winning goal, he managed three shots all game, two on target, two key passes and four dribbles, with his direct running helping to ease pressure on the Villa defence several times. He also chipped in with four tackles and one interception.
He is far too good to be battling relegation every season and with just one year left on his contract, he is in a perfect position for Newcastle to snap him up for a reduced fee.
Joel Ward – Crystal Palace – £5m – Defender
After a revelatory second half of the season under Tony Pulis, Ward can consider himself hard done by to not at least be in the England reserve line up. Versatile, hard working, English and only 24, it is a surprise there hasn’t been more interest in Ward.
Signed for Palace two years ago for a snip £400,000, Ward thrived under the defensive-minded Pulis, averaging 3.2 tackles a game, 2.4 interceptions and five clearances, the youngster has played at left back, right back and defensive midfield. His stand out performance came in Palace’s 1-0 win over Chelsea in April.
Playing at left back Ward managed to tame Schurrle, making a massive eight interceptions, two tackles and seven clearances, while only giving away two fouls against the free-spending Blues. The performance wasn’t a complete anomaly either, back in December against Cardiff, at his more familiar right back, Ward thrived, offensively as well as defensively. He made five dribbles, the most of anyone in the match, but also made four tackles, two interceptions and five clearances (while giving away 0 fouls) in a crucial 2-1 win.
With two years left on his contract, Newcastle should move now before Palace inevitably get him signed up to a longer deal.
Andre-Pierre Gignac – £8m
A large outlay for a 28 year old who will probably have almost no resale value in only a couple of years, Newcastle could still do a lot worse than Gignac (nicknamed ‘Gignac the Big Mac’ in France). With any hope of securing Bafetimbi Gomis from Lyon having sunk with his colossal wage demands, Gignac is a good alternative, with good hold up play, a respectable goal scoring record (especially last season with 16 goals) and International experience.
With Marseille bringing in a new manager (the demanding Marcelo Bielsa) it is has been rumoured Gignac’s casual style might not be suited to the Chilean’s methods. Not only did he score 16 league goals, he also managed three assists, although his tendency to get caught offside may remind Newcastle fans a little too much of Cisse.
Comfortable playing up front on his own (something he did for most of last season with Marseille) Newcastle need an experienced, fit striker and Gignac also has a very good injury record. That may be down to Le Big Macs.
Clement Grenier – Lyon – £11m – Attacking Midfielder
Newcastle desperately tried to sign Grenier as a replacement for Cabaye at the end of January but failed with Lyon trying to secure a Europa League place. Contracted until summer 2016, Grenier has had a break throuh season in Ligue 1 and has been linked with Arsenal (although quite why they need another attacking midfielder is not clear).
Grenier, 23, scored four and assisted five in 28 games last season and has now had four France caps and will be going to Brazil – probably because of his versatility. The forward can play on the right wing, behind the striker, or in the hole, and is good shooting from long range and has good close control.
Playing as a number 10 against Montpellier in March, Grenier looked good, racking up a massive 101 touches. He made eight shots, three on target, three key passes and also made three tackles. His real stand out performance was in January, not long before Newcastle became interested. Playing on the left hand side of a midfield three against Sochaux, Grenier excelled. Not only did he score, he also made two key passes, won three aerial duels, forced two turn overs and made three interceptions.
It is well documented Pardew demands a high work rate of all 11 players, hence the ostracizing of Ben Arfa, and Grenier can deliver that. Realistically he is exactly what Newcastle need in the final third of the pitch but a good World Cup could see his fee sky-rocket and Newcastle should act quickly to secure his services.
Remy Cabella – Montpellier – £7m+ – Attacking Midfielder
Another player Newcastle have been interested in since Cabaye’s departure. Cabella came very close to signing for Newcastle in January but decided to stay and help Montpellier avoid relegation. Having done that, namely by scoring a massive 14 goals from midfield, recent reports suggest the Magpies are close to agreeing a fee to bring him to Tyneside.
Cabella is another versatile attacking midfielder and excels at numerous facets of the game, from through balls, to crossing, to dead balls. The 24 year old averages three shots and two key passes a game but his stand out performance came in an all action 4-4 draw with Lorient in April.
Playing on the right hand side of a front three, the midfielder opened the scoring in the 26th minute with a fantastic shot into the top corner from the edge of the box. His pass accuracy of 70% leaves a bit to be desired but he was always looking for the killer pass, despite his side being down to 10 men for 60 minutes of the game.
Cabella’s tricky feet (he made three dribbles) drew a massive five fouls, key to helping his defence breathe (although they did still concede four). He scored again in the 81st minute to make it 4-1, another right footed shot this time from the edge of the box.
The performance wasn’t a one off either, against Lyon in October, Cabella played just 76 minutes but still scored two, assisted two and made five key passes.
Kevin Gameiro – Sevilla – £10m – Striker
A long-term link for Newcastle United and one that has gone cold since he signed for Sevilla last summer, with Newcastle unwilling to match the asking price. The striker’s successful time in Spain should be proof the Magpies should have gambled on the 27-year-old Frenchman. Since arriving he has scored 16 goals in 24 games, including a flurry of seven in his last seven games in all competitions (and one assist).
Having finished fifth in La Liga and won the Europa League, the Magpies would certainly be a step down in terms of quality, but Gameiro has spoken in the past of his desire to play in the Premier League. Whether that desire would be enough to see him leave a five year contract remains to be seen, but Newcastle missed the boat on Gameiro, with Paris Saint Germain actively flogging him last season.
His weakness with aerial duels is perhaps a sticking point but his two goal performance against Espanyol in April showed the Magpies exactly what they were missing.
Alexandre Lacazette – Lyon – £12m – Striker
Originally linked with Newcastle back in January, Lacazette burst onto the scene for Lyon last season and while his strike partner Gomis has made himself unavailable due to wage demands, for Lacazette it’s likely to simply be the upfront cost which scares off the Magpies. Lacazette, 23, is one of the most sought after young strikers in European football, with Liverpool, Arsenal, Juventus and Everton all touted to be interested in him.
He scored 15 goals in 34 appearances last season, along with three assists. Lacazette thrives on finishing chances with aplomb and boasts searing pace, something Newcastle have missed up front, and is the ideal striker for Ashley’s desired transfer mantra of buy low, sell high (no one sees Lacazette as a risk despite his high fee).
Lacazette showed in January what he was capable of, scoring twice against Evian to set up his side’s 3-0 win. A joint deal with him and Grenier is extremely unlikely however, with Lacazette more likely to go for a club with European football.
Alfred Finnbogason – Heerenveen – £8m – Striker
Another striker Newcastle have been linked with in the past, the Magpies desperately need reinforcements up front and Wilfried Bony has proved a good goal-scoring record in the Eredevise can transfer to the Premier League.
Finnbogason was the star striker of the whole league last season, scoring 29 goals in 32 games and racking up 10 assists. Averaging almost four shots per goal, one of the best records in Europe, albeit in a league not known for its defending. Reassuring for Newcastle is Finnbogason’s consistency, rather than scoring in fits and starts, the Icelandic striker has scored against almost every team in the league. His only hat-trick came against strugglers Waalwijk in November.
In fact there were only 10 games last season where Finnbogason didn’t score or assist, a mighty impressive record, regardless of opposition.
He capped off his season against Utrecht at the end of April, scoring one and assisting two, taking home the man of the match award after having five shots and three key passes, along with forcing two turnovers and drawing two fouls.
Filip Kostic – Gronigen – £4m – Left Wing
A bit of a left field choice – and not just because he plays left wing – with Newcastle never linked to the player, but if Pardew does plan to ship out Marveaux and Ben Arfa, Newcastle will look very light on the wings, outside of converted wingers Moussa Sissoko and Yoan Gouffran.
Available for a snip at £4m, Kostic had a great season with Gronigen last year, scoring 11 and assisting seven, becoming well known for his good delivery from the wings, something Newcastle have lacked.
Playing on the left hand side of a front three, Kostic excelled against Chelsea-reinforced Vitesse earlier this month and turned in a Man of the Match display, scoring twice (both with his left foot), completing two dribbles and even making a tackle. 100% of his shots were on target too.
In March he scored one and assisted one against PSV Eindhoven, making two keys passes, three shots on target and drawing two fouls. He also made three tackles.
Aged just 21 he would fit into Newcastle’s youth policy and could deliver in the first team straight away, something Newcastle desperately need.
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