Taking stock of Newcastle and January transfer window
What better time to sit down and look ahead to the January transfer window than during an international break?
The powers that be will be taking stock so what can we expect from Newcastle United?
Injuries have taken their toll in the first quarter of the season, some bright young talent emerging from the shadows to transform the prospects for the season, from early optimism to the relegation zone and, for the time being at least, the top half of the table.
The first big constraint is that Newcastle United have already registered 25 senior players, with 3 others (Ben Arfa, Mbiwa and Marveaux) out on loan and Shane Ferguson currently in limbo. The simple message is that players have to be sold, loaned or sidelined if anyone new is to come in.
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Logic suggests that the most likely to be de-registered from the playing squad are those who are coming towards the end of their contracts in June 2015. The senior players included are Ben Arfa, Ryan Taylor, Ferreyra, Jonas and Sammy Ameobi.
Ryan Taylor has become something of a talismanic figure now. It remains to be seen if he will be offered a new contract. Recent seasons suggest that club policy is towards youth, Raylor being the oldest midfielder to play for us since Nolan departed. His return suggests that he may not be far from his best form but will age be a factor? He provides cover for midfield, as well as both left and right back. His continued presence may afford the opportunity to cash in on Santon.
Jonas is another story. He is the only other midfielder to have played for us after his 30th birthday since Nolan. Undoubtedly a popular figure among supporters, confusion surrounds the nature of his contract and whether additional appearances trigger an extension clause, doubt heightened by his previous loan to Norwich. Whilst those of us on the terraces would love top see him back in action, it remains to be seen if the manager is equally supportive. The emergence of Sammy, Aarons and Obertan suggest his long-term future may be up for discussion.
Whilst Ben Arfa and Ferreyra have been nowhere near the first team, for varying reasons, Sammy appears to have taken his chance to impress, albeit mostly from the bench.
The situation is further complicated by the players who ‘grow up’, becoming over 21 for next season. As we saw last summer, promising players such as Tavernier were released or sold. This year, Abeid, Vuckic and Haidara were added to the senior list. Next summer, we have Alnwick, Good, Ayoze and Bigiramana to graduate, not to mention Darlow and Lascelles, yet to appear from Forest.
Supporters will be concerned following Ashley’s record of cashing in during the January window. It happened with Cabaye and Carroll, the former being the more interesting, given freedom of movement rulings. The £20m or so raised from Cabaye’s sale overcame the drop to the value of the last year of his contract, suggested to have been around £6m.
We have 3 players who could come into the same category next summer or during next season, those being Krul, Tiote and Coloccini, which may be a consideration if the powers that be want to clear the decks.
Taking those in turn, Krul of course alerted the world to his abilities in Brazil. Reserve keeper Elliott has graduated to international level with Ireland, Darlow and Alnwick are also in the background with Woodman another bright prospect.
If there is to be a big sale to fund incoming, perhaps Tiote is the most likely. Despite not appearing much so far this season, his international stock is high. Colback has added balance to the side and is apparently here for the longer term. Abeid, if he can be persuaded to sign a new contract, is one for the future, showing potential to increase his valuation. Tiote’s sale would afford the opportunity to give Abeid a significant rise and still keep within Ashley’s wage constraints. Anita and Bigiramana provide cover with Sissoko able to also move back when de Jong is fit.
The defence looks to have little cover, Dummett already having been moved inside. Coloccini remains the most experienced of our defenders with Good already on the international stage and of course Lascelles to come in. Steven Taylor and Williamson are both out of contract at the end of next season, so it is probably more likely that at least one of those will go next summer. Central defence is an area that could be strengthened.
Whilst supporters were crying out for more defensive options last summer, and indeed the club have suggested that they were looking for a replacement for Mibiwa, the other area that many of us were calling to strengthen was up front.
Pardew seems to have fallen into a system that he perceives as a flexible 4-5-1/4-3-3. Whilst of course we welcome the unanticipated arrival of width, due to injuries, the range of options creates a couple of questions. With a fully fit squad, would Pardew favour a return to his ‘funnel’ formation, with wide players cutting in? If not, the Gouffran could be one of those makeweights in the transfer market.
If playing with 1 up front, how many strikers can we genuinely accommodate? Ayoze has made an impression. Despite allegedly being touted around the market last January, Cisse has shown his value by playing in his natural position down the middle and his resale value has probably been hit by his former wing play and later injury. Ferrerya and Riviere have yet to impress but will Ashley sanction 4 players for one position? Summer activity may be more likely.
Taking everything into consideration, we know there is the need to sell or loan to fund incoming. The ones to watch out for in the departure lounge are Tiote, Krul, Santon and maybe even Coloccini, perhaps even Sissoko if Tiote stays, along with players whose aspirations will be towards seeking a loan and long-term deal elsewhere.
Incoming depends on outgoing, with central defence a priority, but given the demographic profile of the squad and the favoured formation, we can’t expect too much elsewhere. The net result will be some pocket money for the board to have a good night out in Aspers.
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