With 41 days until the Championship begins, we are still waiting for the first shots to be fired by Newcastle United in the transfer market.
The local media claim to have an insight into the transfer window chatter behind the scenes at St James Park and this is the profile of signings Rafa Benitez wants:
Permanent deals rather than loan signings
Premier League standard players rather than ones to just do a one season job in the Championship
Experienced players rather than young inexperienced/potential
Players who can offer leadership along with experience
Nobody could disagree with wanting these type of players to be signed by Newcastle United but just how viable is it?
When the talk is of ‘Premier League standard’ then it is a conundrum – because if players are good enough for the Premier League then it is hard to see anybody choosing a Championship club, even if it is one such as Newcastle who are hot favourites to be in the top division in 14 months time.
If it isn’t to be loan signings, then to talk of PL standard you would assume Rafa Benitez is looking for players either from abroad or the Championship, who are capable of playing in the Premier League long-term as well as the Championship now.
Which maybe gives a little bit more credibility when Newcastle are said to be interested in players such as midfielder Danny Williams of Reading, or central defender Grant Hanley.
Hanley is the latest to be linked and on the basic facts/stats he looks like a solid Championship player, a bit like Williams, but is he any better than what Newcastle have got and if not, would he/they be happy to be squad players?
Blackburn fans appear to rate Grant Hanley as one of their best players and the 24 year old has got 23 caps for Scotland which suggests he is at least of a certain level.
However, it would all appear to rest on just how much Rafa Benitez rates his current players (depending on who will leave as well…), if he is to look to buy players to come automatically into the first team.
There is no doubt that Rafa is brave enough to go with what he thinks is for the best, no matter what the reputation, after dropping players such as Shelvey, Wijnaldum and Mitrovic in the relegation run-in, the Newcastle boss proved more than ready to pick players no matter what the media or fans might think.
Whilst Rafa has stated that he has three or four signings almost ready to go, I think the first one will tell us a great deal.
Is the focus going to be on battle-hardened experienced Championship players, or players from elsewhere – almost certainly from abroad, who the manager thinks will take the English second tier in their stride?
It is all quite intriguing rather than worrying (as it would be if the likes of McClaren/Carr were still making the decisions) as to how Rafa Benitez will approach this first ever campaign in the Championship.