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Opinion

100 days until transfer window closes – The moves Newcastle United need to make

10 months ago
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The summer transfer window ends at 5pm on Thursday 9 August.

Yes, in exactly 100 days time we will all know who Newcastle United have, and haven’t, signed this summer.

To get an idea of how quickly 100 days passes, if we go back that amount of time it brings us to 21 January, the day after Manchester City beat NUFC 3-1 at The Etihad.

That was three weeks before the pivotal match when Newcastle beat Man Utd 1-0 at St James Park and sparked the run of form and results that ensured Premier League safety.

So 14 weeks and 2 days can fly be pretty quick.

The summer transfer window opens in 16 days time on Thursday 17 May and is open exactly 12 weeks.

With the Premier League moving their window and it coinciding with a major tournament, it has split the window into three almost equal parts.

Four weeks of the window before the World Cup Finals kick off (14 June), then the tournament running for almost exactly four weeks (over the course of 31 days from start to finish), then 25 days after the tournament ends.

I think for me, these three splits for the transfer window sum up how I feel about it.

Newcastle have to get their main business done in the first four weeks. Not only because of the extra problems that the World Cup causes of getting deals done – but also  think we need to get deals in a little under the radar, as once any kind of auction/competition comes along, we are usually knackered under Ashley.

Then we have to look at what will happen by the end of the World Cup, this is getting towards the danger zone. As by the time the World Cup finals finish on 15 July, Newcastle will have been back for pre-season training for around a couple of weeks.

To get new signings properly integrated and brought up to speed by Rafa Benitez, he ideally will want them brought in by that mid-July point.

Then we come to that post World Cup period, which is when I guess there will be a mad mad period, as Premier League clubs realise time is running out due to the window now closing before the season kicks off.

If Newcastle are still relying on making key signings in this period, then the risk factor for me will be far higher, as desperation means the pressure will be on to bring in someone, even if not the ideal one.

We saw this happen to an extent with Joselu last summer and then definitely with the Islam Slimani loan deal on deadline day in January.

Assuming the £4m permanent deal goes through with Martin Dubravka, then I think we have a pretty solid central core, with the Slovakian keeper and then Lascelles and Lejeune in front of him (and Clark as back-up), then the flourishing central midfield pairing of Diame and Shelvey.

There is always room for improvement if the right player comes along but I find it difficult to see Rafa Benitez finding players within his overall budget to get ahead of these five players.

Which then leaves us with both flanks as well as the two most forward players.

I think none of the current first eleven are terrible but…I do believe that at the very least we have to bring in better quality options in a minimum of four of those six positions.

So any four or better of the two full-backs, two wingers, and two strikers/striker and number 10.

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Happy to keep any/all of these current first teamers as squad players BUT I do think we need significant improvement if the team are going to compete next season.

For my money, Gayle and Perez are top of the list for seeing better quality come in above them. For your front pair to score 10 goals between them, it doesn’t take a genius to work out that this will make it very difficult for your team to compete overall.

Then I would say Newcastle need to improve at least one player on both sides of the pitch, either at full-back or on the wing.

A permanent deal for Kenedy would tick that box on the left, and whilst I like both Yedlin and Ritchie, I think it’s clear a boost in quality is needed from one of those positions, particularly going forward.

Ideally I’d like to see all six of those positions (full-backs, wingers, and strikers) strengthened and another central midfielder, but I am a realist.

As well as Dubravka, I think it is realistic for Rafa to be able to bring in four other first team players, if given a half-decent budget, particularly if say Mitrovic is traded for getting on for something around the £20m mark which is now very likely.

All I am asking for them, realistically, is for permanent deals to be done on Kenedy and Dubravka before the World Cup kicks off, plus two other key signings before mid-June, including at least one new first choice striker.

If that work can be done in the opening four weeks of the transfer window then I think we will have broken the back of it.
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