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Opinion

With Mike Ashley blocking new signings – Six Newcastle United players with potential for improvement

4 weeks ago
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Which Newcastle United players will we be relying on in this new fast approaching season?

It was a tough watch last season and felt a lot longer than the 350+ days it eventually took!

Still not sure how it happened but Steve Bruce managed to get the team to early safety despite the unconvincing tactics and performances.

However, I think far more will be needed from the Newcastle United players this time, as that level of luck can’t hold.

Normally when you look for improvement, you first look at what the new signings can give you.

Sadly, on day 29 of the Premier League transfer window and only 19 days to go to PL kick-off, not a single first team signing brought in and all the indications are that none will arrive. A lot of talk of only loans and free transfers to bulk up the NUFC squad, rather than bringing in better quality at the other end.

So in the absence of quality new signings, I think we need to look at where we have potential for improvement amongst the Newcastle United players already on the books.

Now with most of them, I think it is a case of they are what they are, we aren’t going to see them suddenly improve further.

That goes for the numerous poor to average players we already have, as well as the likes of top performers such as Isaac Hayden, Jamaal Lascelles and Martin Dubravka, as well as a few others. The likes of Hayden, Dubravka and Lascelles are good players BUT I don’t see room for major improvement on their level of performance so far for Newcastle.

Newcastle United players with potential for improvement?

Sean Longstaff

Had a very average season not helped by injuries or Bruce’s over the top negative tactics.

I look back at how good he looked playing with Isaac Hayden in the second half of that 2018/19 season, when breaking into the team.

The pair of them have the mobility and energy to help get Newcastle playing further up the pitch and pressing the opposition, helping to win possession in dangerous situations, which would allow Sean Longstaff to maybe get a decent number of goals as he has an excellent ability to shoot from distance as well as getting into the box.

Joelinton

Sceptics / cynics will maybe say that he can’t do any worse…

However, that is a little unfair. Of course we should expect more goals but two things are clear.

He isn’t an out and out centre-forward and Steve Bruce didn’t get the best out of Joelinton.

His form in the Bundesliga and Champions League in 2018/19 definitely showed there is a player there and once again, a more attacking set-up would see a better level of play from the Brazilian.

Matty Longstaff

I’m pleased that he signed a new deal at last after being messed around so badly.

A no-brainer that he was kept at NUFC, although I don’t think he has anything close to the scope that brother Sean has.

If not going out on loan, I can see him potentially making some decent contributions from the bench.

Miguel Almiron

Maybe the biggest victim of all of Bruce’s tactics.

Rarely given any kind of a license to get into attacking positions except when ASM was missing, so no surprise that his better performances tended to be in those matches.

We saw when he first arrived in 2019 that Almiron can be a key attacking player when allowed to roam in the opposition half, instead of playing  as an extra defender as was the case for most of last season. A willing player wherever he plays but we need him up the pitch to see improvement in 2020/21.

Allan Saint-Maximin

The scene is set, even towards the end of last season we saw potential turning into more end product.

Only one PL win in games he didn’t start last season, we ideally needed a better striker and a creative midfielder / winger signed this summer to help get the best out of ASM.

In the absence of those signings I still think we will see improvement from the French winger BUT not as dramatic as if we’d put better players around him.

Dwight Gayle

Having been at Newcastle for four years and set to turn 30 in the Autumn, maybe strange to see him including in a potential for improvement list.

However, those four PL goals from limited opportunities late on last season, showed that he can score at that level if getting chances.

Maybe not a top finisher but I think with better service he could stand every chance of double figures in 2020/21.

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