1/ Bakary Sako
This is one I have mentioned before. The 28 year old Malian has really suffered at Crystal Palace lately, and is in desperate need of a move to rejuvenate his career. He was signed by Alan Pardew upon his contract expiry at Wolves in the summer of 2015, and actually began his debut Premier League season quite well. The first two matches he played for the Londoners seen him bag a goal in each (against Aston Villa and Chelsea respectively). It was after that purple patch though, that he floundered, failing to hit the net again.
This season, a lack of fitness combined with Alan Pardew’s unwillingness to leave out Andros Townsend (remember him?) has resulted in Sako only playing four minutes of football thus far. During his spell with Wolves in the Championship, he did show his class at this level. 24 goals and 21 assists in 78 matches is by no means a bad record at all. Newcastle are in need of wingers too, with Christian Atsu jetting off to the African Nations Cup and Rolando Aarons’ season ending injury leaving only Yoan Gouffran and Matt Ritchie. Sako would be a more than capable option, even if it is a loan deal until the end of the season.
2/ Fernando Forestieri
This is a man that was of course, heavily linked with a move to Newcastle just three months ago. He enjoyed his best season in English football with Sheffield Wednesday, scoring 15 goals (his previous best being 8 in 2012/13). He had become a fans favourite with the Hiddlesbrough faithful, but this summer it all went a little sour for the Argentine-born Italian.
After rumours began to heat up about him wanting a move away, he eventually went on strike, before returning to first team action after a move failed to materialise. However, a notable loss of form has made Wednesday fans question whether they missed an opportunity to cash in. His quality is still there, footballers never lose that. Perhaps the drama of the summer has affected his mental state? If he is at all unhappy, Newcastle could do much worse than bringing him in to play in the “number ten” role.
3/ Aleix Garcia
The young Manchester City star recently played very well against their fierce rivals in the EFL Cup, but has the problem of being in a team that is stacked with midfield talent. On the night, he looked very calm on the ball, and clearly had that special ability of picking out passes nobody else can.
A loan move is something Rafa Benitez should definitely look at, especially with the uncertainty still surrounding Jonjo Shelvey. The young Spaniard could come in and offer a good back-up option for the Englishman. Of course, the prospect of a permanent deal may not be likely, given that Pep Guardiola clearly rates him. However, as a short-term option, this would be a shrewd piece of business.
4/ Vincenzo Grifo
A wild card option? No doubt this will be somebody that is relatively unknown with supporters. A left-sided attacking midfielder, playing for Freiburg, has really come of age over the last season and a half. During the German club’s promotion push last season, he excelled. Scoring goals (14) and assisting plenty more (15), he shown wonderful passing range and a quite extraordinary set-piece delivery. Now in the top-flight, he has continued to impress.
His brilliant displays have very much gone under the radar in Europe, which is something Newcastle should take advantage of. The Bundesliga is rather similar to the English leagues too, so adapting may not be as difficult as some might think. The promise of Premier league football next season may prove a good bargaining chip in luring him to Tyneside. There is an old saying, “Strike while the iron is hot”, and his iron is as hot as it has ever been in his career.
5/ Jordan Ayew
Dare I say it? The Ghanian was undoubtedly the best of a (very) bad bunch at Villa during last season’s debacle. Cutting in from the left, he is easily one of the best players in the Championship, but has fallen victim to Villa’s poor start to the campaign. Despite this, he has managed to score three times in all competitions, coupled with four assists. In terms of creating chances, he is one of the best in the division, creating 25 chances for his team-mates. To put this into context, Matt Ritchie has 30. He would not come cheap.
Steve Bruce would be sure not to let one of his key men leave for a promotion rival, but Newcastle could have all the pulling power needed- Premier League football looks increasingly likely next season. Signing Jordan Ayew would offer Newcastle that mercurial ability in the final third that will simply see the team over the line. I will go out on a limb by saying that if this move was to materialise, Newcastle would be guaranteeing promotion. As if it isn’t already guaranteed!