A new report claims to identify the five players Rafa Benitez is desperate to bring in when we reach January.
This isn’t exactly breaking news, as these positions have needed quality added ever since the return to the Premier League.
Three transfer windows have already gone by but with Mike Ashley leaving Rafa with both hands tied behind his back, the Newcastle manager has found it all but impossible to make any significant progress.
With the NUFC owner blocking any buys in the two Januarys under Rafa Benitez so far, it would take a brave/reckless person to believe it will be much different this time around.
In January 2017 the manager was desperate to buy players to ensure promotion and help prepare the team/squad for the likely step up to the Premier League.
Whilst January 2018 saw United in real relegation trouble.
On neither occasion was Mike Ashley prepared to back Rafa Benitez, so why would he do so this time?
It is a savage irony that the answer to that question, is that the chances of the owner allowing money to be spent rapidly increases the worse Newcastle are doing.
Rather than spending money from a position of strength and when NUFC have some momentum, instead it is far more likely cash will be invested in the squad if/when the odds are looking stacked against Premier League survival
The report from The Chronicle under the headline ‘The five positions Rafa wants to strengthen’, identifies the following priorities for the next window:
An offensive left-back
A central-midfield option
A creative midfielder
A pacy winger
A proven top-flight goal-scorer
Whilst the elusive decent level attacking left-back seems to be a never ending search for the club…it is obvious where the real need is.
Newcastle are desperate to sign better players who can create and score goals.
I don’t want to depress anybody but even if Mike Ashley changes his stance on allowing proper investment in the squad, which clubs would be willing to sell the players who are capable of scoring and creating goals?
At least in the summer clubs are more willing to trade because they then have the time/opportunity to replace them
In January you are surely taking far bigger risks in terms of the type of players who could be bought – those with bigger negatives usually attached, such as a poor injury record, no regular football, or taking a risk on players from weaker leagues.
Last January Newcastle go very lucky, as Dubravka made a big difference at one end when arriving on loan, whilst Kenedy, who had hardly played since arriving at Chelsea three years earlier, provided a spark going forward.
Bringing in a goalscorer was a different story. Newcastle missed out on Daniel Sturridge at the last minute, ending up with Islam Slimani on loan instead. Both of those strikers ended up injured, starting only three league matches between them for their loan clubs, scoring no goals.
When promoted, Rafa Benitez and Newcastle’s team were desperate for a quality number 10 and centre-forward, two positions that had to have money spent on them. This summer Rafa was once again blocked from doing so.
I think the reality is that if Newcastle are to survive this time, the vast majority of the answers will need to be found from within the group of players already at the club.