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Opinion

Newcastle United scouting team now needing to get creative

5 days ago
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Last season, Newcastle United finished 12th in the league and 17 points above the relegation places.

When put like that, it sounds like a reasonable season.

Of course, with Newcastle United it’s never that simple and even though they undoubtedly ended the season on a high, the cracks were visible for all to see. At one point, with 10 games left, there was serious talk of relegation and things looking stale.

Thankfully, an injured Allan Saint-Maximin returned and rejuvenated the squad, whilst the on-loan Joe Willock who arrived in February also turned heads and got eight goals in 14 matches. As a result, for the history books at least, it looked like a reasonable season given the circumstances.

Since then, transfer talk has been rife, which is not unusual for this time of the year. For all the talk of Covid re-shaping the rhythm of transfer fees, it doesn’t look like much will change.

This leaves us with Newcastle’s current predicament.

So far, there has been talk of a £30 million valuation for Willock. Given his age and form, in the current market it sounds about right. Of course, whether Arsenal would sell him is another matter. Then assuming a takeover doesn’t happen, in the unlikely event of Mike Ashley agreeing to a credible bid going in for the Arsenal midfielder, that would surely then be the entire summer budget (and more!) gone on the one buy.

Whilst this would be a welcome purchase…once again it begs the question of depth and whether this Newcastle United team / squad is deep enough to really kick on…let alone avoid another relegation battle, which may well be the case without serious investment.

It’s not just the Willock position either. Assuming Newcastle United keep their key players, the right side is also fragile. Whilst Jacob Murphy did fairly well for his first real season with us, the position has also been used by Miguel Almiron who seems like a hard worker but lacks the real talent to threaten most Premier League defences on a regular basis.

Perhaps what Newcastle are looking for is the next Temuri Ketsbaia. Signed back in 1997 on a free transfer, Ketsbaia was at the peak of his career and came from the Greek league. It was an unusual signing at the time but he quickly became a cult hero and helped Newcastle get into the Champions League. Interestingly, Ketsbaia also had a background in Judo which also only added to his personality and would have helped in the dressing room. This is a far cry from the typical personality of the modern-day footballer.

Times may be different now but he’s an example of how some creative Newcastle United scouting can go a long way when money is tight. In many ways, the signing of Ketsbaia was the complete opposite of what happened when re-signing Andy Carroll, a player on the decline who was not cheap in terms of wages.

So, what is needed to fuel a creative change?

For one, it wouldn’t hurt for the scouting department to look elsewhere and go further afield.

Secondly, this also needs to be sanctioned by Steve Bruce.

For all Ashley’s faults (of which there are many), he of all people would be up for bargain signings to keep his investment stable.

Sadly it looks like yet another season of mostly uninspired signings and clinging on to Premier League safety by the fingernails.

Naturally, the ultimate goal is new ownership, but until then, an innovative scouting team could be a solution to the continuous problems at Newcastle United.

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