Much of the press is speculating that Newcastle will see a large influx of players in the summer, with some suggesting that as many as five new faces might be present in next season’s squad. The books will of course still have to balance, so what are the likely courses of action?
First, players will need to leave in order to free up the cash for fresh purchases and that will begin by getting Alan Smith – and his alleged extortionate wages – off the books. Lovenkrands’ contract is up in the summer too; I have no idea what sort of wages he’s on but I’m guessing his contract won’t be renewed.
I think two players who may make an exit are Cheick Tiote and Demba Ba. Tiote was signed for a fee of just £3.5m from FC Twente in August 2010 and I’d guess he’s now worth 2-3 times that amount with Chelsea apparently front-runners to sign him. Demba Ba was of course signed on a free and we’ve since heard Harry ‘Loudmouth’ Redknapp blabbing on about some sort of release clause in his contract and that might mean we don’t get too much for him, but his excellent scoring rate this season has certainly attracted attention. In fact, Demba Ba has just been voted ‘Best Signing Of The Season’ having accrued 56% of the vote from the League Managers’ Association (Phil Jones and Scott Parker were second with 13% each).
I’m pretty sure we wouldn’t actually want to let our top scorer go but if there’s any truth in the rumours about the release clause we may not have a choice, although maybe the signing of his Senegalese team-mate Papiss Demba Cisse might help our chances of keeping him.
In terms of incoming players, we’ve supposedly signed a pre-contract agreement for 22 year-old French midfielder Romain Amalfitano from Reims, although the details are sparse and I have no idea how definite such a ‘pre-contract agreement’ is.
I think we need to look at our central defence too. When Steve Taylor ruptured his Achilles and broke the partnership between him and Colo, our defence seemed to suffer dreadfully. Even the return of Williamson didn’t repair matters, although I do feel he has been improving recently. Nevertheless, it would seem like at least one new central defender would be a sensible target.
The club has not so far reached any agreement with Danny Simpson for a new contract (although he is still contracted to us until summer 2013) and I can’t help but think the club would let him go for the right offer anyway. He should certainly be worth more than the £750,000 we paid Manchester United for him in January 2010. Even if he doesn’t go there’s an argument that some competition for the right-back position would be no bad thing, although I reckon Pardew would consider the left-back position ‘covered’ between Santon and Raylor.
The right midfield position never seems quite correct to me either and I get the impression that we’re ‘making do’ there at the moment, so that’s another area Pardew may wish to strengthen. In fact, over the last few days, the press have been linking us (and Arsenal) with Dijon’s Benjamin Corgnet (again) who has 8 goals in 26 appearances for the French club this season. Apparently he can play pretty much anywhere in the midfield, either in a defensive role or up behind the striker(s), although of course any link between him and our club is merely at the rumour stage just now.
It’s just as likely that we’re scouting players on the quiet too – those that don’t make the rumour pages of the press – but it’s a fair bet we’ll be doing a lot of that scouting in France, so stories linking us to French players generally at least sound logical even if those stories are in fact complete twaddle.
We’ve still got a lot of work to do this season of course. Things could easily slip away from us after 4 games without a win and we need to concentrate on the final 10 games. However, no harm in looking ahead, so who do you think will be leaving or joining this summer?