I have seen a few mentions in recent days and weeks of certain Newcastle players deserving new contracts.
The chief one of these is Yoan Gouffran.
Since getting his chance against Reading, the former Bordeaux midfielder/striker has grabbed the opportunity with both hands.
Gouffran has started in 13 of the last 14 Championship matches and the only one where he was left out, saw a 2-0 defeat to Wolves.
With the Frenchman in the team, Newcastle have won 12, drawn one and lost none.
This is the Championship though, not the Premier League.
Has Yoan Gouffran played better than he did in the last couple of years? Yes.
Is the opposition weaker in the Championship? Yes.
No getting away from it, the player has done a good job but that is as far as it goes, the second tier is a long long way below what is needed at the top level week-in week-out, where if you’re honest, Gouffran was pretty abysmal after his initial run of matches (a bit like another Frenchman who left this summer…).
You only have to look at Paul Dummett. Is he suddenly a good player?
He is ok, maybe good you could say, in the Championship but no more than that. A lot of difference playing defensive minded teams with no winger up against him pretty much every time, as compared to coming up against Premier League teams where even the likes of Crystal Palace are now spending £30m on players.
Yoan Gouffran will be 31 when his Newcastle contract ends in June 2017 and we should all (hopefully) be saying thank you very much, done a great job this past season, but it is goodbye.
There is nothing wrong with saying he is doing a good job this season, whilst at the same time saying it would be foolhardy to give him another contract.
If/when Newcastle get promoted, for all kinds of reasons they can’t be giving players such as Yoan Gouffran new contracts.
The main one of course is that to compete properly in the Premier League. NUFC would need better players, a good handful at the bare minimum to raise the overall quality of this current squad. There would be no room for Gouffran in a matchday 18, or even the first team squad.
In the Championship he does a good holding job on that left hand side and has pitched in with a few decent goals when having the freedom to move into the middle against some poor sides – but against better teams it just wouldn’t be enough and the goals wouldn’t happen. The last few years have told us that.
In fact it is obvious to all, that the whole left side would have to be upgraded on promotion, whether Lazaar can come through and show he can be good enough or whether we need another left-back from outside.
The same on the left wing, can Christian Atsu do enough to get a permanent deal and play on the left in the Premier League, or would it need to be another signing from elsewhere?
Moving forward we also need to be creating space in the first team squad for the likes of Adam Armstrong and hopefully the odd other one or two homegrown players that might be coming through. Giving short-term contracts to older players who aren’t going to get a game in the Premier League, isn’t the way forward if Newcastle get promoted.
Elsewhere, the other player where a decision will have to be made about a new contract or not, is Vurnon Anita, who also sees his current deal end in June.
He will be 28 when next season comes around and so on age alone there isn’t a problem but would he be good enough?
Anita has done well in this second tier but struggled for most of his time in the Premier League, especially in his preferred position in midfield, where he just can’t hack it.
He has got a certain level of ability but with DeAndre Yedlin we are seeing a player with far more potential and with his pace and ability to get forward, that is the kind of player we need to aspire to in both full-back positions.
Under Alan Pardew, Newcastle ended up stockpiling players who weren’t good enough to be part of things moving forward, I think that under Rafa Benitez’ amiable exterior we will see a far more ruthless operator.