The 3rd July brought us pictures of Newcastle players returning to the training ground to start their pre-season preparations.

While the pictures told a story of players returning with nice tans, Rafa looking happy, and a new training kit, it also showed another untold story at the club so far. That is, the pictures showed the full extent of the difficulties Rafa Benitez is facing in the transfer market this summer.

While lots of fans on social media, including myself, have noted the issues Newcastle have faced in getting players through the door this summer (Reina, Abraham, Semedo), it could be that it is the issue of getting players out of the door that will be the major stumbling obstacle to a successful summer.

What Monday showed was that for Newcastle to really get their teeth into the transfer market, you would have to expect that they must shift some players out of the club as soon as possible…and boy there is a lot to shift!

It might not feel like it but Newcastle’s squad is huge.

For the Premier League next season a squad size of 25 senior professionals is the maximum allowed and these have to be named once the transfer window ends. From those 25 players, at least eight must be “homegrown” players who have come through a domestic development system.

This was implemented by the PL in order to encourage teams to develop their own talent. For example, under-21 players (For the 2017/18 campaign Under-21 players will have to have been born on or after 1 January 1996) can be used even if they are not named on the 25-man squad list, thus there is a further incentive for them to use more “homegrown” players.

At the moment, the present squad looks like this:

Goalkeeper: Tim Krul, Freddie Woodman (U21), Karl Darlow, Rob Elliott

The goalkeeper issue is a big one. It would appear from those keepers we have been linked with so far (Joe Hart now mentioned) that Rafa is after experience between the sticks. Consequently, if a keeper was brought in then that would make it five first team keepers at the club.

Subsequently, in order for Rafa to sign a goalkeeper, you would imagine that Charnley and the board would expect assurances that at least two keepers will be on the move in the opposite direction.

Left-Back: Paul Dummett, Achraaf Lazaar, Massadio Haidara

You would hope that Newcastle are after a left-back to be able to put pressure on Paul Dummett this season.

However, based on the current numbers I can’t see the club sanctioning the signing of a left-back until they know that at least one of Haidara or Lazaar (maybe both) are going to be leaving. Given the fact that I personally think Gamez and Colback will stay, two players who can also play there if needed, then I can’t see the board going being willing to have three first team left-backs on the books.

If a left-back is to be brought in then expect Lazaar to go out on loan and it wouldn’t surprise me if Haidara was released early from his contract.

Centre-Back: Jamaal Lascelles, Grant Hanley, Ciaran Clark, Chancel Mbemba, Florian Lejeune

This is an area where I don’t see a great issue at all.

The signing of Florian Lejeune takes the current tally to five centre-backs, but with Grant Hanley set to be moved on, perhaps to Sheffield Wednesday, then we will be left with four decent centre-backs (although none of us have really seen Lejeune play so fingers crossed).

Four centre-backs is the ideal amount and it worked well last year. Even in a true crisis, the likes of Dummett and Hayden can slot in for the odd game.

Right-Back: DeAndre Yedlin, Jesus Gamez, Jamie Sterry

Again, if another full back is going to come in then you would expect that one of the right-backs above will have to be sold. I think Jamie Sterry will have to go out on loan to the Championship, at 21, if he isn’t going out loan to the Championship then he really isn’t good enough.

Perhaps Rafa will view having three right-backs will be okay given the fact that Gamez is versatile and Rafa may be relying on him more for his experience rather than playing time.

Centre Midfield: Henri Saivet, Jonjo Shelvey, Isaac Hayden, Jack Colback

At the moment, I think that this is the weakest area of the team. Hayden is still young with no top flight experience and Colback was very poor last season, so I think we need two new centre midfielders to be able to compete sufficiently this year.

However, I would be surprised if even one came in before the club were assured that Saivet will be off the wage bill. Although I want two new centre midfielders, I can’t see Colback leaving so I think Rafa will settle for just one, knowing that Diame can also fill in.

Wingers: Rolando Aarons, Matt Ritchie, Yoan Gouffran, Christian Atsu

This is another area where you would expect that Rafa has another winger, or two, lined up.

Yet again though, that would require one of Aarons, Ritchie, Gouffran or Atsu leaving. Will Gouffran sign a new deal? I think he will, so that would surely leave Aarons being the one to go. Regardless, Aarons is a player who has to go out on loan otherwise his playing time is going to be limited.

Attacking Midfielder (No.10): Ayoze Perez, Mo Diame, Siem De Jong

A new number 10 would be my No.1 aim for this summer. I would love to see us go out and break our transfer record on a real classy player.

Although Sigurdsson is probably out of the question, a player of his ability is much needed this season. If that did happen, it would take us to four attacking midfielders for only position. This obviously is unlikely to remain this way, although Perez can of course play out on the left-hand side.

One of Perez, Diame, or De Jong will definitely leave, likely to be De Jong, but if we are to bring in a genuinely quality no 10 then maybe two of those will have to go.

Strikers: Adam Armstrong (U21), Dwight Gayle, Alex Mitrovic, Daryl Murphy, Manu Riviere

If there is one thing we have learnt and that you can guarantee, it is that Rafa will only play with one striker.

This means that NUFC currently have five players fighting for one position. If we bring in a proven striker to compete with Gayle, which we need to do, that would make it six.

Also, take into account the fact that Perez and Gouffran (kind of) have shown they can play up front under Rafa, this would potentially make it eight centre forwards competing for one position. It is just not going to happen and so you can guarantee that there will lots of movement in the striking department.

It wouldn’t surprise me if Newcastle don’t sign a striker until the very last few days of the window when they know just exactly what they have to deal with. Riviere will definitely go and Armstrong will surely go back out on loan or on a permanent. Even then, you still have 4/5 players, so don’t be surprised if Mitro goes too.

What is for certain, is that given the past five years of what can only be described as utter garbage performances in the transfer market, this is going to be one long old summer.

Newcastle are starting again and so both Charnley and Ashley will be extra careful to make sure that there is no reoccurrence of a Henri Saivet, or make sure that there are no six year contracts handed out to another Manu Riviere.

This will make this summer a long and slow one and it wouldn’t surprise me if business goes all the way down to the last day, just so that the squad is in order, the finances are right and no players are getting changed for training in the toilets.

What we do know for certain is that at the moment Newcastle currently have 29 players (excluding  Under 21 players that don’t have to be registered).

This means that if say 6 more (as well as Lejeune and Atsu) Newcastle players are brought in, which most fans would agree are needed for us to be able to compete sufficiently, then other players simply HAVE to leave in order to make space in the squad. Bearing in mind that the likes of Krul, Hanley, Gamez, Saivet, De Jong and Riviere will be on wages and contracts that probably don’t correlate with their ability on a football pitch, then it might be difficult to get rid of them

It is definitely going to be a long July and probably a long August too…

You can follow the author on Twitter @JonathanComyn

(All contributions from Newcastle fans welcome, send articles (as well as ideas/suggestions) to [email protected])

  • mentalman

    There is going to be a massive cull at newcastle this coming season with a number of young lads and deadwood leaving the club at least on loan so i think it’ll be more a case of the club struggling to get up to the 25 man mark rather than struggling to get down to it

  • MichaelMaximusMoose

    You need to give them away & get them off the wage bill, write the money off. put it down to the crass stupidity of the Toxic Twins, Penfold & Carr

    • Rich Lawson

      Free’s all round,save the wages.

  • Leazes Ender

    Brimful of asha

    • Rich Lawson

      Are you saying Sports Direct is just a Cornershop ?

  • TheFatController

    I think making Sigurdsson our one ‘statement’ signing might be ideal – we’d accept just a few more Lejeune £10m signings and loans if we had the prospect of a Ritchie/Shelvey/Sigurdsson/ Gayle/ Perez core of goal getting – you could see how in that Rafa would have guaranteed Abraham game time – but as you say, a good number 10 is going to make or break goal scoring this season certainly.

    • NUFCDan

      Sigurdsson is never going to happen though. If he leaves Swansea it will be for huge money to a club in Europe not a sideways move to us for another relegation scrap.

      • TheFatController

        Sadly agree, that’s the sad part of football these days. His move this summer will be heavily influenced by his Spurs experience though – first name on team sheet at 50k with great manager might make him at least think about the pros and cons. Shame Ashley wouldn’t share any excitement at the likely fee!

  • Burt Humperdink

    It’s difficult to see who would pay anything right now for Saivet, Krul or Riviere. De Jong did reasonably well in Holland again last season so maybe, but the money would be pants so better to keep him as a squad player for now. Hanley, Lazaar and Murphy should move on to championship sides. Armstrong, Sterry, Aarons, Toney and maybe even Haidara on loan. The squad is massive!

    • Down Under Mag

      Yeah, there’s a few youngsters on senior contracts that we would be able to loan out easily enough to free up squad places…doesn’t help us payign wages on duds but at least we can still hopefully strengthen our cause with new blood.

  • NUFCDan

    So much deadwood on big contracts. This must be the biggest barrier to signing new players. There is easily a dozen senior players there who are completely expendable.

  • Alreet

    Just cancel their contracts. Will anyone pay good money for any of the deadbeats around.

    10 to be shorn i can give you names straight away.

    De jong

    I agree that midfield is a total mess and needs a right good bulk out.

    • HarryHype59

      That lot cost over 30m, I wonder what their sell on value is? I note some are Rafa buys. Little wonder “the every penny the club generates” statement is actually worrying. The club will be lucky to get 10m for players listed even if they can be persuaded to leave.

    • Down Under Mag

      I think we would easily get our money back on the likes of Murphy, Hanley and Diame (or at least be able to move them on back to the Championship for a small loss). Championship clubs would snap them up because they are tried and tested and are not a risk in the slightest so worth the money spent for a club trying to get promotion. There’s talk of Rafa giving the top four on that list a last chance to impress. Riviere may not have been everyones cup of tea but I thought his movement off the ball was pretty good but just lost all confidence after he was forced to play as a lone striker when that clearly wasn’t suiting his game. Krul will be loaned out easily enough as will de Jong. Gamez was brought in but we’ve not seen anything of him but I suspect his stocks will still be high enough to warrant a loan back to Spain.

  • Kev-82

    We are paying the price now for last seasons transfer activity, filling the squad with plenty of Championship level players but only loaning out our deadwood was always going to leave us overstocked this summer if we gained promotion. I can’t see Ashley signing off many new players with the 25 Man squad limit, we’ve got to get the squad numbers down and quick if we want to see more incoming business.

    • Clarko

      Mbabu, Sels, Ameobi, Thauvin, Vuckic, Anita and Satka, it’s going down.

      • Kev-82

        It’s quite easy to move out of contract players quick and Thauvins sale was agreed last summer. By my reckoning we still have about 4-5 too many senior players from what we currently have to make a 25 man squad. Do you really think Ashley is going to want to pay wages for unregistered players who are not allowed to play? I think we should be able to get that down to 25 with sales/loans but not sure how much more deadwood we can actually shift to free up space for new signings.

        • Clarko

          it was 10-12 players that needed moving on before the players listed were moved on, now it’s “4-5”, it’s progress, it’s all you can ask for.

  • Andy Mac

    With the news that Huddersfield (who only made it via the Playoff final) have secured 3 new players with cash and another three loan signings to help in their fight to stay up – my question is who is determining the signings for NUFC ?

    OK we made little money last season but HTFC made a lot less than we did yet they can shell out £30m on Mooy, Ince and now Mounie ?

    I have always had trust in Rafa but Fatman ………..never further than I could throw him

    • Clarko

      Look at the players Huddersfield have signed, Mooy who was previously with Huddersfield on loan who has never played in the Premier League. Ince who has minimal experience in the Premier League and who I would argue is not as good as Ritchie, Knockaert or Cairney. Mouniè who scored 14 goals in 37 appearances in Ligue 1, Newcastle fans know all about the uncertainty when buying players from Ligue 1. Malone a left back from Fulham, Williams a free transfer from Reading, Palmer a loan signing who was also at Huddersfield last season and Kachunga who was there last season. So really they have only signed four “new” players.

      I have a theory that if Newcastle signed the same seven players as Huddersfield have, our fans, including you, would be extremely disappointed with six of those seven players. Is my theory way off the mark?

      • mentalman

        when i saw huddersfields list of players they had bought my first thought was they are preparing for next season in the championship

      • Andy Mac

        The point you’re missing is not the players in particular but the fact that they’ve acted immediately after the window opened. Whatever HTFC feel they need they have at least acted decisively.

        • Clarko

          No, you’re missing the point, why have Huddersfield been able to sign the players that they have? Lack of interest from other clubs, no other Premier League clubs are competing for those players. From what I have read Newcastle have had significant interest in Abraham and Caballero, both had interest from other Premier League clubs and signed for other Premier League clubs, Huddersfield have not had to deal with that, and that’s due to the quality, quality of the players they are interested in.

          • Andy Mac

            “Lack of interest from other clubs” So tell me Einstein, how many clubs
            were we beating off with a shltty stick to capture Lejeune ? Bottom line
            is someone at this club is not pulling their finger out !

            TBF I posted this 3 days ago but the type of stick got caught up in theMag/Disqus monitoring system. Hence a subtle rewording.

          • Clarko

            Nobody was in competition with Newcastle for Lejeune, that’s one of the reasons we were able to sign him, that is one of the reasons Huddersfield have been able to sign the many players they have. Why is there no competition I hear you ask? Well that would be the quality issue discussed earlier. Huddersfield are signing lesser quality players compared to players pursued by Newcastle (Abraham, Caballero, Semedo, ect).

          • Andy Mac

            WTF are you talking about ? 🤔

            You say HTFC are buying shlte players because no one else wants them ? Yet NUFC are buying players because no one else wants them too ?

            You also say HTFC are buying shlte players but NUFC have been linked with better players that they havent signed ?

            What time do they lock you all up at night ? God I hope its secure and not run by G4S ? 🙄

          • Clarko

            Lesser quality player = Less competition = More likely to secure player signature.

            Higher quality player = More competition = Less likely to secure player signature.

            Huddersfield have been able to secure more targets because they are pursuing lesser quality players, which brings less competition.

            Newcastle are finding it difficult to secure their targets because they are pursuing players of a higher quality, which brings more competition.

            Simple logic.

  • Down Under Mag

    This was always going to be the case and exactly why i’m not expecting all our transfer dealings to be done too early…we simply can’t afford to keep loading our squad and then risk having 5 or 6 players who are sitting around without a squad numbe rstill getting paid for not being able to play. I expect we will have no trouble selling certain players bought in last season back to Championship clubs, and others we will probably end up loaning out again…we may have to pay some towards the salary and may need to be patient but i’m sure by the end of the window we will have seen enough business done to improve the squad.

    It’s very dangerous comparing what other clubs are paying and who they have bought and how many. We need to do what is right for us and not what is right for Huddersfield for example. The prices are out of control and so I for one am happy to wait and see if we can get who we need in to do the job without splashing cash based on money we don’t have. We actually would do well to see if we can find any more players with reasonable release clauses like Lejeune. Time will tell how good he is but if we wanted him without it in todays market we would have probably been quotes 30m.