Rafa Benitez has outlined what he needs at Newcastle United.

The United boss well satisfied with what he has achieved so far at the club – but also acknowledging that there now has to be a rise in the quality available to him.

The Spaniard said in Summer 2016 that he was building a squad to get out of the Championship, which they did with flying colours at the first attempt.

However, back in Summer 2016, Rafa Benitez also said that once promotion was achieved he would then have to build a squad for the Premier League.

That could never happen overnight but having been forced by Mike Ashley to shop at the bargain end of the market, the likes of Manquillo, Joselu, and Atsu, were never going to be anything more than stop gaps to try and help Newcastle survive their first season back in the top tier.

This is how the Newcastle Manager sees what he needs at St James Park to be able to compete.

Rafa Benitez:

“The ideal situation is to have around 22 players maybe, and then three players from the academy that have the potential to do well.

“That is the ideal situation.

“Can we do that? I don’t think we can do that at the moment, so we have to manage.

“Some of the players that are already here, they have to stay, but what you need is more quality in the squad to be sure you have 20 or whatever that can play any game.

“You have to have more players now that they can play. And because we [now] know the players much better, we can make the right decision with this group of players.”

Looking at Rafa Benitez’ minimum figure of  ’20 or whatever that can play any game’, I think these 11 have showed enough to us in their time at the club to qualify for that 20.

It isn’t that many/any of them are world beaters, or indeed who you would want playing every week, but they are good enough to help form that minimum 20 man squad, along with better quality signings added.

Players good enough for the 20 man squad:

Jamaal Lascelles, DeAndre Yedlin, Jonjo Shelvey, Florian Lejeune, Mohamed Diame, Paul Dummett, Matt Ritchie, Dwight Gayle, Ayoze Perez, Mikel Merino, Ciaran Clark

If you are looking for 22 senior players as Rafa ideally wants, then I think you could add Karl Darlow and Christian Atsu.

Either way, I see that as Newcastle still easily been at least nine players short of what is needed next season.

These next six players aren’t of the quality needed to be included in that group of 20 (or 22). Some fans still think Mbemba deserves more of a chance but Rafa clearly doesn’t, whilst maybe Murphy will prove good enough one day but that time certainly isn’t now.

Jacob Murphy, Chancel Mbemba, Joselu, Isaac Hayden, Javier Manquillo, Rob Elliot

As for the rest of the players you can consider, you have:

Loan Players

Martin Dubravka, Kenedy, Islam Slimani

Kenedy and Dubravka have certainly shown they are more than good enough to make a Newcastle squad of 20 but they are still only loan players, buying those two would take us up to 13 of the 20 needed.

Then you have:

Loan Players Returning

Aleksandar Mitrovic, Henri Saivet, Matz Sels, Ivan Toney, Freddie Woodman, Adam Armstrong, Rolando Aarons, Sean Longstaff, Jack Colback, Jamie Sterry, Alex Gilliead

Whilst we hope the Woodman will make it eventually, plus Armstrong, Tone, and Longstaff also maybe having outside chances long-term, none of the young players are ready to be included in a top 20 for next season.

Saivet, Colback, Sels and Aarons all need to find new clubs.

Aleksandar Mitrovic is certainly good enough to make a squad of 20 but Rafa doesn’t think so, though a transfer fee of up to £20m for the Serbian will at least hopefully help fund some of that extra quality which is needed.

So with nine ideally needed this summer, Dubravka and Kenedy are essentials for me to get that process moving, then as for the other seven needed, I think at this stage it is realistic for Rafa to be funded to bring a minimum of another four of these players, to finally start building towards what he really needs.

Definitely Leaving – Out of contract

Jesus Gamez, Massadio Haidara

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  • mentalman

    gayle and yedlin good enough for a 20 man squad, really?

    Again the likes of clark and Atsu would only be used in an emergency.

    I think we need more than 9 to get to the number rafa wants

    • Billmag

      I think Yedlin is good enough as was proved yesterday when he came on, another season under Rafa and maybe he could iron out his defensive abilities.

      • mentalman

        He’ll need to iron out his attacking deficiencies to

        • thewildchimp

          The problem is that we have too many “one-trick-ponies”. They are brilliant as long as they are not challenged to play outside of their comfort zone, otherwise they crumble to pieces.

  • Stephen

    But where do they come from?
    And how to get rid of players on good contracts?
    And the biggest question. Will the owner show any ambition and spend any of the prize Money?

    • Leazes.

      Go and play football manager and you’ll find out.

      • Stephen

        Does ‘Football Manager’ include club owner’s aims and ambitious?

    • nufcslf

      Don’t buy shyt and put them on good contracts in the first place would be a start. You don’t get stuck with them. Proper scouting and make sure they are the player’s the manager wants and a bit of communication as well. None football minded morons in charge of signings get you the squad we have at present. Not teally goog enough is it.

  • Leazes.

    You see that is analysis based upon an isolation, if you have a goal of European football as a minimum target then you have to look at what the likes of Liverpool, Everton and Leicester have, not just numbers but quality of the squad.

    There’s a huge gulf to bridge and that means spending, but unfortunately Ashley is likely to still be here for the foreseeable future and he won’t spend the type of money that brings the top or second drawer players in.

    • Jezza

      Yes Ashley has got a goal of 17th in the Premiership as a maximun target. That’s the problem.

  • Leicester Mag

    Sad thing is that signing might be’s and NEVER were’ s like the Hos isn’t saving money it’s WASTING it! Half rsed investment is in some ways worse than not investing at all. Will the shyte bucket listen to this or take advice Norfolk and Chance

  • Clarko

    ~£22m of this season’s budget sat in the “aren’t of the quality needed” section…

    • TheNutJob

      see Penfold on that 1

      • Clarko

        Yeah I’m sure he is the one that suggested and signed Joselu, Murphy and Manquillo…

        • MadMag83

          No but he does set the budget constraints along with your buddy Mike, and he is responsible for missing out on other targets, you know, the ones he “couldn’t get over the line….”.

          • nufcslf

            How very true

          • Clarko

            Again, it’s just repetition, the same nonsense and misinformation over and over again.

            Who are these targets? The targets that you decided not to name because you didn’t think that information was important to the argument?

  • TheNutJob

    9 players short, how many will Fatty buy, 1 the keeper.

  • Andrew Sparrow

    Gayle and dummet really I dnt rate either or diame fact he plays well with Shelley just ain’t gd enuff so 3 less

  • ghostrider

    We potentially could finish 10th or 14th depending and that’s with what we have at our disposal, barring Dubravka and Kenedy and the waster, Slimani who are loans.

    The issue is, what are we aiming for next season as a minimum but also with a potential for better?

    Personally I think we need to change our style of play and if not, simply don’t buy anyone except the goalkeeper and maybe some greyhound striker that is 6’6″….and loan Kenedy again.

  • Foggy

    We do need nine new players. Not all as squad players but probably at least five of them need to be starters. Maybe more if we want to at least be comfortable next season.

    • foggy

      And who might you be ?

  • Nut

    No way we will be able to afford 9 quality players, even if we do we will still have weakness as it’s a constant transition of trying to find better players to transform the side and moving on those weaker ones.

    I think if Rafa gets money it will be 50 million or so…. that’s not going to go very far at all.

    It’s a long game strategy he will have to play and invest in the youth to reap rewards later and the team at a slower rate than he might want to right now.

    I would love to see us spend north of 100 million but I can’t see it happening unless Ashley moves on as he just doesn’t seem to be up for it.

    That said who knows…. no one can read the fella.

    What I do know is if we do bring decent players in, they will show up the gulf in quality with what we currently have.

    The trick will be being able to move on the existing players for a profit and likely that’s not going to happen right away. Probably they will end up being loaned out to get in the shop window. Then either moving on or running their contracts down.

    A big part of the issue in the Ashley era under previous managers was not utilising the loans market properly to move on players and so we were frequently in a situation of waiting for players contracts to wind down in order to get the wages off the books for it to be used to bring in another body.

  • MadMag83

    Out: Manquillo, Sels, Darlow, Gamez, Haidara, Lazaar, Mitrovic, Joselu, Aarons, Saviet, Colback.

    Loan out: Mbemba, Gayle, Murphy, Longstaff, Street, Gilliead.

    Dubravka will almost certainly be signed. Slimani will be returned to Leicester. Kenedy could be tricky to sign.

    Armstrong and Woodman should be amongst the squad. Then we need another CB, two good strikers, a number ten, a left back, a right back, and a left winger if we don’t get Kenedy.

    • 1957

      The most delusional part of your post is the idea anyone would want the Hoss… even if Benitez would sell him.

      • MadMag83

        I reckon he could be Sunderland’s top scorer in League One, with 5 goals.

  • nufcslf

    9 player’s and a proper owner = don’t stand a f**king chance.

  • Wezza147

    More out then in, saving so much on wages, more money for MA to pocket!

  • thewildchimp

    Umm… We maybe have 9 players that are good enough, not 9 that we need. Not counting the loaned ones in, since they are unwanted by Rafa. The squad isn’t rubbish but they need to be strengthened ASAP.

  • Come&TakeIt1836

    If the squad Rafa is looking for is one capable of making strong runs in cups and challenging for the top 6, then only (arguably) Lascelles, Lejuene, Shelvey, and Diame (the last few months version) are starters. Dubravka starts until Woodman is ready. Woodman is out on loan next year so not in the 25. If Kenedy is brought back (buy or loan), he is on the pitch, too. Yedlin is a ‘maybe’ as a starter but in the squad. Dummett, Ritchie, Merino, Hayden and maybe Perez are at most squad players but not first-choice starters at today’s skill level. Merino may develop into a starter. The others stick around depending on how their ‘skill-ceiling’ proves out. Several of those are probably pretty close to their skill-ceiling so squad player until churned. Murphy and Atsu are either projects or out. Manquillo, Clark, Mbemba, other non-playing options and all of our current forwards are out. Either Elliott or Darlow are third choice keeper.

    So to get to a solid 22+3, in addition to Kenedy, we need a complete set of forwards and reserves (3?), a starting number 10, a starting right winger, a starting left back, reserve right back (or starter), two reserve central defenders, and a backup goalie in the ‘Dubravka’ mold…10 or so in total. If any of the ‘maybes’ end up out, then add that number more.

    Of course we won’t get all that in one window. I don’t think Rafa expects it either. He just wants an assurance this profile is the ultimate goal over 3-4 windows.