As we enter the last days of the January transfer window, Newcastle United are entrenched in the bottom three and looking to have another battle on their hands to stay in the division.
Many fans are screaming for a new striker but Newcastle have already spent more than most in this window in an attempt to provide the manager with some players to aid the recovery. Players who probably should have been bought in the summer, but in fairness at least they are acting now. Most would say a new striker is imperative to our survival hopes and it would be hard to disagree looking at the stats this season, especially away from home.
However, will signing a new centre forward suddenly solve all of the teams problems, or is it a bit like throwing extra men forward towards the end of the game when you’re behind, in a desperate attempt to create a chance of an equaliser.
Newcastle believe it is not as simple as just buying a new striker and correctly in my opinion, they have brought in Jonjo Shelvey from Swansea, a forward thinking central midfield player with good vision and range of passing. As shown against West Ham, when given time and space on the ball he has the ability to create chances and make things happen. He was less effective against Watford with less time on the ball but the whole team were less convincing overall in that game.
They have also brought in Andros Townsend from Spurs, who is an attacking, direct winger with electric pace who we can presume has been brought in to do the job that Thauvin has failed to do since being signed for big money in the summer.
Townsend will run at players and the Newcastle management will hope he can make things happen in the final third. Although, from what I have seen of him at Spurs he can be a frustrating player to play with for strikers, due to his lack of end product and constant shooting from distance, which increased after his wonder strikes for England.
Both players were brought in for £12m or thereabouts, have Newcastle overpaid for these players? Probably a little bit, but both players fit the club blueprint of being the correct age and they are British and both current England internationals.
In today’s market and considering they are being bought in January, Newcastle have probably paid the going rate when you see Benik Afobe going to Bournemouth for a similar price. Chairmen from other clubs will attempt to push the price up when midway through the season, the club they are dealing with have suffered badly from injuries or are worried about relegation, having inadequately addressed squad deficiencies in the previous summer.
So with these two players brought in along with Henri Saivet from Bordeaux we can probably expect Newcastle to line up in the following way in midfield and attack if everyone is fit and available. This is presuming they play the formation they have been playing recently and not the three at the back used against Watford.
Centrally will be Shelvey with one of Colback, Anita or Saivet alongside him. Townsend will presumably start on the left with Sissoko on the right and Wijnaldum playing in behind the striker.
With the players currently available, that leaves us with Perez and Mitrovic vying for the lone striker role. Before demanding a new striker who many believe must be signed in this window, the long term future of both of these players must also be considered. Will they be happy sitting on the bench or will they push for a move if not starting games.
Both are players who certainly have something in my opinion and they shouldn’t be discounted as they are both very young. Neither should have been put in the position of being expected to score the majority of goals for Newcastle this season to keep us in the division.
Mitrovic’s presence and hold up play has been excellent in many games and people tend to forget just how young he is. He is lacking in the finishing department at the moment but has shown at Anderlecht he does have an impressive goal scoring record and this part of his game will hopefully develop and improve in time.
Perez has been outstanding for the club since his arrival and I often wonder where we would be without him. He also offers versatility in being able to play in a number of positions behind the striker. Continuing to look at the bigger picture and a longer term view, Newcastle also have young Adam Armstrong at Coventry and you would hope the club would be looking at getting him involved in the first team next season as one of their forward options.
Of the other strikers currently at the club we have Riviere who is a poor player and was a poor signing for me, they should look to sell ASAP and make room in the squad. Cisse is currently injured for a while and although he is a good natural goal scorer he is injury prone, I think his best days are also behind him.
So what the transfer board must be weighing up at the moment is do they bring in another striker now, or do they look to make do with a combination of Mitrovic and Perez until Cisse regains fitness. Therefore hoping to get through until the summer and stay in the division with the strikers they have and the midfield additions they have already made. By doing this they can then look to sell Riviera and Cisse in the summer and bring in the top drawer, proven striker they desperately need to play alongside Perez, Mitrovic and Armstrong.
Or is this simply too much of a gamble and could end up costing the team their premier league status and therefore money must be spent now and the striker situation must be addressed in this window?
Looking at realistic available options, Charlie Austin for £4m looked to be an absolute steal and alongside Shelvey and Townsend would have been an excellent transfer window in most people’s view. Why he wasn’t signed earlier is simply beyond comprehension for practically everyone in football so I am presuming there is more to it, possibly due to Newcastle’s northern location. Anyway whatever the reasoning behind it, Newcastle have missed the boat with that one.
As they have with Benik Afobe who Bournemouth have signed from Wolves. Newcastle probably rightly believe he is a risk coming from the lower leagues and they don’t have the time on their side for a player to learn and develop his game in this league. If they are going to do that then they should just persevere with Mitrovic and Perez.
This reason would also seem to rule out a move for Patrick Bamford from Chelsea. If they are to buy in this window, Newcastle require a striker who can hit the ground running and get goals straight away in order to survive.
Newcastle recently looked at Saido Berahino and after supposedly offering £18m they have probably correctly been put off by his club’s unrealistic asking price so this deal now looks unlikely.
This leaves us again looking towards the French and Dutch market and Graham Carr’s much discussed and often maligned contacts book. If big money is going to be spent in this window and the bid for Berahino and the noises coming out of the club is that money is available, then my preference would be to go big and really push for Alexandre Lacazette from Lyon, if he will indeed come to Newcastle.
Pay whatever he will cost if there is any chance of getting him, as this lad is a class act and certainly no Riviere. If he is not signed up now then he will certainly be playing for a much better team than us in the summer.
Other less attractive options available include Bas Dost from Wolfsburg, who like Cisse is currently injured and isn’t expected back anytime soon. There is also interest in Bafetimbi Gomis from Swansea who seems desperate to leave the club. He will want big wages and is now 30 years of age, for me he is a definite no and never was the answer. Too much of a mercenary and would only add to the number of fragile characters we currently have at the club.
Then there is Loic Remy on loan from Chelsea who we know can play, but is a player who has also turned us down on more than one occasion and is currently earning £85,000 per week at Chelsea, which may prove a problem. If he will indeed come as a short term solution until we can sort things out in the summer then this would seem to be the best option available on the table for me.
However, is it really a much better option than sticking it out with Perez, Mitrovic and Cisse?
As Riviere proves, bringing in bodies just for the sake of it isn’t always the answer and the club need to think about the impact of any new signing on how this will affect morale and confidence of both Mitrovic and Perez.
One thing is for sure if the correct decision is not made by the transfer committee on this one, the outcome could be absolutely disastrous.
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