Newcastle United striker conundrum – Potential solutions in transfer market
The Newcastle United striker search and potential candidates for the role.
Previewing an upcoming film, album or football season is always fraught with difficulties. Like previewing or analysing anything that has yet to happen, the sheer number of variables can make a fool out of the best of us.
However, given the current turmoil in football, and particularly at Newcastle United, pre-season predictions are more complex than ever.
For Newcastle United, discussing how the next season will transpire is akin to previewing a soon to be released film that has no production company attached, no budget in place, no top actors enlisted and no plot lines, catering staff or equipment. Previewing Newcastle United’s 2020/2021 season, given the club’s relentless turmoil, is nigh on impossible.
However, the hope or trepidation that lingers in the minds of all Newcastle fans remains, with supporters fixating on slithers of information made available through the media, with the hope of learning something about how Newcastle will fare in 2020/2021.
Claims have suggested that Newcastle will have £30 million to spend this summer, that new investors are interested in buying the club, and that Steve Bruce, who appears to have earned a second season in charge, will primarily aim for British talent in the transfer market.
It would be optimistic to say this is what we ‘know’, but with these claims (and many more) in mind, it is interesting to consider what Newcastle will do this summer.
With this summer following a season in which goals were Newcastle’s most tangible weakness, how a limited budget will be used to address this issue and who Newcastle will look at this summer, are perhaps the most pertinent questions.
Firstly, given the limited budget, Newcastle fans should be realistic in who may arrive to help solve the goal scoring conundrum. With that in mind, the highly suitable Ollie Watkins of Brentford would sadly be an unlikely target. Watkins managed 25 goals last season for Brentford, his intelligent running, pace and aerial prowess certainly appealing to a Newcastle front three that has lacked goals and the pace to keep up with Allan Saint-Maximin and Miguel Almirón.
However, as with Celtic’s Odsonne Eduoard and Borussia Mönchengladbach’s Marcus Thuram (two other highly appealing prospects), it would appear Newcastle’s financial restrictions, style of play and current potential as a club make Steve Bruce’s side unappealing as a destination for such rising stars.
So, with a greater sense of realism, what are Newcastle looking for?
Given the dearth of top level finishing in the Newcastle ranks, it’s fair to say that the priority for Newcastle is a natural and clinical finisher. Alongside the ability to score goals, an incoming striker/forward would benefit massively from being quick across the turf, given Newcastle’s reliance on counter attacks.
The obvious choice given Bruce’s desire to integrate a British edge to his side is Bournemouth’s Callum Wilson. Given Bournemouth’s financial woes following relegation, Wilson could be within Newcastle’s budget. Wilson’s pace and finishing is certainly desirable for Newcastle, the Bournemouth man hitting 14 goals and managing 9 assists in 30 appearances in 2018/19. However, last season Wilson only found the net 8 times, which whilst an improvement on what Newcastle already have, is far from ideal. This alongside his injury record, poor passing, hold up play and limited creativity mean that whilst he may be worth a punt at a reasonable price, he is far from a long-term solution to Newcastle’s attacking problems.
Two slightly more obscure options for Newcastle, whilst not both British, may offer a combined skillset that would add attacking thrust to a limp forward unit.
Adrien Hunou of Rennes, at 26 years old, is a slightly younger option to Wilson. Hunou is a versatile forward, capable of playing either as an attacking midfielder or centre forward. With 9 goal contributions (8 goals and 1 assist) in 23 appearances last season, Hunou’s output, whilst not spectacular, is around a goal every three games- something he might improve if played consistently up front. The Frenchman is a pacey ball carrier who thrives on penalty box finishing and is a useful counter attacking threat. His obscurity may make him a risk but he is certainly one within Newcastle’s budget.
Whilst they say to never go back, Newcastle with Kevin Keegan, Alan Shearer and Lee Clark have proved a willingness in the past to give former employees a second go.
Former Newcastle man Ivan Toney (32 appearances, 24 goals, 6 assists in 2019/20) is pushing for a move away from Peterborough this summer, with the Posh resigned to losing their leading man. Toney was admittedly treated poorly during his time at Newcastle, as despite showing promise, he was never truly given a chance in the first team. However, his intelligent movement and ability to link play through deft touches and layoffs make him ideal to connect Newcastle’s somewhat hectic and disjointed front line. His finishing both with his feet and aerially is excellent and Toney is a natural centre forward with the pace and physicality to operate in the Premier League. Newcastle can certainly afford him but convincing him to return may be the hardest part of any deal.
Hunou and Toney would give Newcastle a clinical edge up front that they have lacked, whilst also integrating into the side’s pacey counter attacking style.
However, this is not to say that the club should simply banish the £40million Joelinton. Despite his lacklustre first season, bringing in a more traditional centre forward might actually free the Brazilian to operate in his more suitable withdrawn/ creative role. A new striker should not spell the end for Newcastle’s disappointing (as of now) number 9.
So, if Newcastle were to sign the likes of Toney, Hunou or even a Watkins, Eduoard or Thuram as suggested here, it would at least give fans a leading man in their attempts to understand what next season has in store. Despite budgetary limitations and constant turmoil, targets do exist that could give Newcastle the boost they need.
A new Newcastle United striker as suggested above could be the difference between next season being a box office flop or a surprise hit.
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