On Monday, amid rumors of disgruntled managers and transfers taking their sweet time getting completed, Newcastle opened its first day of preseason training ahead of a return to the Premier League. As is the case with most major events surrounding Newcastle, the club provided plenty of photos of players arriving at the same time, which I assume was preceded by Lascelles skating around Newcastle with a bird caller to get the gang back together (this isn’t the last time I will reference D2: The Mighty Ducks). Here are a few major takeaways from what we’ve seen so far.
1. Yedlin and Lazaar Stay Being Best Friends
Let’s start with the players who seemingly had the best offseason. Yedlin and Lazaar are tied for first in this category because, as far as I can tell from social media, they spent exactly zero minutes apart, other than Yedlin’s time with his national team. Immediately following the season, DeAndre added some new ink cementing how much he loves his home state before grabbing Achref and jetting on off to spend time in Los Angeles, getting in some beach training and a visit to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Yedlin spent June with the US Men’s National Team while Lazaar hung out some more in Las Vegas (featuring an Ayoze cameo), only for the two to reunite in LA once more before heading back to England.
It’s no surprise, then, that the two appear to have shown up at the first day of training camp together, continuing a lifestyle that I can only imagine rivals that of Dean Portman and Fulton Reed (also not the last reference to D2).
2. Jonjo is looking TIGHT
One of the first pictures we got showed Jonjo and Isaac Hayden strolling into the facility together, and my first thought upon seeing it was that Jonjo looked smaller than I remember, but that could be faulty memory. My initial belief was confirmed later in the gallery with this photo:
Unless this picture has been altered in some way, Shelvey looks to have lost some weight this offseason, proving that he’s taking the upcoming season seriously. Questions around Jonjo have never been based on talent but whether he would mentally be able to meet his potential, and if this picture is to mean anything, we’re in for a special season.
3. Number Changes
This could mean essentially nothing, but a close look at the photo above of Skinny Shelvey shows Diame wearing 10 on his shorts, a number that theoretically still belongs to Siem de Jong. De Jong was also present at training and looked to be walking under his own power, which is a positive step for him, but this could signify the end of his tenure at Tyneside. It could also indicate that Mo grabbed the wrong pair of shorts before heading onto the training pitch.
4. New Signings Incoming?
Right as Monday came to a close, the official Newcastle Twitter account dropped this tweet:
Who’s that person blurred out in the background? If the rumor mill is to be believed, it is possibly Florian Lejeune, the Eibar center back who supposedly spent his Monday in Newcastle having a physical after terms were agreed to over the weekend. Will we finally be meeting some of the new members (this is the last Mighty Ducks reference) who will be joining in the return to the Premier League? Hopefully Tuesday comes with more information to digest.