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.
“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:
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