Newcastle United have had a patchy season to say the least, yet they are challenging for the Europa League and have certainly improved since the influx of French imports in the January transfer window.
The short-term target for the club is to establish themselves in the Premier League and have a good go at the Europa League; the long-term vision is to cement their place in the top six of the Premier League and stay there. There is no doubt they have the foundations to do so.
Although Newcastle have brought a lot of new players in, they have not spent vast amounts of money. Moussa Sissoko, Yoan Gouffran, Massadio Haidara, Mapou-Yanga Mbiwa and Mathieu Debuchy cost the club an estimated £15.3 million in the January window; compare that to the £19 million QPR spent on Loic Remy and Chris Samba and the huge wages they paid both players. Newcastle have the squad to challenge at the top end of the league but in order to do so, they will have to improve certain aspects of the team.
A ‘purple’ player, as managing director Derek Llambias calls them, are players that will jump straight into the first team, and it has been said that the club are targeting three ‘purples’ in the summer, without having to sell any key players. Here is my view on where the club should strengthen in the summer:
Striker – Since the departure of Demba Ba and the failure to land Loic Remy, Newcastle are desperate for another top striker to play alongside Papiss Cisse. The number one target is Saint Etienne striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. The Gabon international is in demand though and will not come cheap. It’s rumoured that the player would be very interested in a move to Tyneside, and indications suggest Mike Ashley will make a personal visit in order to get the deal done. It would be a magnificent signing for the club. Other potential striker targets for the club are Siem De Jong from Ajax and Wilfried Bony, however, I believe signing Aubameyang would be the best move for the club; he will offer not only goals, but strength and pace also.
Centre-half – With the imminent departure of captain Fabricio Coloccini, it is essential that Newcastle sign a centre-half to replace him. Mamadou Sakho from PSG is a name that has been thrown about for a good 12 months around the club, and it is believed that Newcastle will make an early move for the French centre half. The signing of Sakho would represent a major coup in the window for Newcastle after a lot of clubs have expressed an interest in the centre-half. James Tomkins is a name that has been mentioned a lot, but I believe that would be a major step down for the club.
If Newcastle can strengthen these two positions in the summer, and not sell any key players, then they will be a team that will have power, strength and pace and not many teams will look forward to facing that prospect. For the first time in a long time things are starting to look extremely bright on Tyneside, and despite a blip this season, I believe Newcastle United are back on the road to becoming a major force once again in English football.