At the end of each transfer window, every top tier club has to present a list of up to 25 senior players who are allowed to then play in the Premier League.
So once this 2018 summer window closes at 5pm on Thursday 9 August, a Newcastle United squad list containing no more than 17 players who do not fulfil the “Home Grown Player” (HGP) criteria, will need to be quickly submitted to the Premier League.
The rest of the squad, up to a total of 25 players, must be Home Grown.
An HGP means a player who, irrespective of nationality or age, has been registered with any club affiliated to The Football Association or the Football Association of Wales for a period, continuous or not, of three entire seasons, or 36 months, before his 21st birthday (or the end of the season during which he turns 21).
Under-21 players are eligible over and above the limit of 25 players per squad. For the 2018/19 campaign Under-21 players will have been born on or after 1 January 1997.
At this moment in time, I make it that the current Newcastle United squad looks like this, as the players return today for the start of pre-season preparations.
First Team: Martin Dubravka Others: Karl Darlow, Rob Elliot, Matz Sels, Freddie Woodman
First Team: DeAndre Yedlin, Paul Dummett Others: Javier Manquillo, Jamie Sterry, Achraf Lazaar
First Team: Jamaal Lascelles, Florian Lejeune, Ciaran Clark Others: Chancel Mbemba
First Team: Matt Ritchie Others: Jacob Murphy, Christian Atsu, Rolando Aarons
Mohamed Diame, Jonjo Shelvey, Ki Sung-Yueng, Mikel Merino Others: Jack Colback, Henri Saivet, Isaac Hayden
Dwight Gayle, Ayoze Perez, Aleksandar Mitrovic Others: Joselu, Adam Armstrong
There are 30 players listed above, though Adam Armstrong and Freddie Woodman are still eligible as Under 21s.
So bottom line, is that even without signing another player, Rafa Benitez still has three players who couldn’t feature.
In reality of course, there are many many more that the manager and the club are desperate to move on.
My splits above are the players (first team) who I would be happy to see regularly start games next season, though obviously hoping that better quality comes in for however many positions. Whilst the rest I have grouped as ‘others’, some of them ok (in my opinion) as squad players but not as regular starters.
With the strikers, I have been a bit more lenient, as maybe all three of Gayle, Perez and Mitro would be borderline for myself.
Of the 28 senior players, I think Rafa Benitez is very keen to move on:
Sels, Lazaar, Sterry, Mbemba, Aarons, Colback, Saivet, Mitrovic
In addition, it looks all but certain that Mikel Merino is also going to leave.
If those nine do leave, then that would see 19 senior Newcastle United squad players still here, with plenty of room to bring in new signings.
Rafa was forced to loan out a large number of senior players, as well as the younger ones going out to be developed, let’s hope not too many will have to go down that route this time.
It would be great if the manager can make early inroads into moving on these eight or nine above, as it is essential that he has as many factors in his favour when trying to remodel his squad.