The Premier League summer transfer window opens June 14, which means we will have seventy-eight days of rampant rumors, speculation, and some complete nonsense to sift through the next few months and weeks.
Last January, Newcastle started to get linked with high-priced footballers past their prime like Saudi-bound Cristiano Ronaldo and oft-injured Neymar when their agents realized they could use the PIF wealth to try and gauge interest and raise the prices and salaries offered by other, more realistic and suitable clubs.
With prize money of around £37m from finishing fourth in the Premier League this season and an influx of Champions League funding to combat Financial Fair Play (FFP) rules, expect the Magpies to be in the middle of every rumor across Europe.
But, to build on this year’s success, where are the biggest needs?
I plan to look at various areas of the pitch as we get towards June 14, but one of the most pressing areas for me is the right side of the field, involving both midfielders and forwards.
As things stand, the realistic options for Eddie Howe’s 4-3-3 are Sean Longstaff, Anthony Gordon, Jacob Murphy, and Miguel Almiron to occupy two spots (one midfielder, one winger).
While most fans, including myself, looked at Longstaff as the inevitable player-to-upgrade at the beginning of this season, I believe he’ll keep his position in the starting lineup. Howe’s offense flows through Kieran Trippier’s overlapping runs on the right flank to then cross the ball inside, while Longstaff has a perfect role stepping behind as a counterattack blocker.
Newcastle had been heavily linked with RB Leipzig attacking midfielder Dominik Szoboszlai since before the season ended. A quick search produces numerous reports indicating that sporting director Dan Ashworth’s scouts have watched Szoboszlai multiple times in recent weeks.
What’s most newsworthy, is that the 22-year-old openly admitted in a recent interview that he aims to move on to a bigger club, which turned into the young lad facing a hefty fine for making those remarks. In fact, during Leipzig’s DFB Pokal finale 2-0 victory on Saturday (the German equivalent of the English FA Cup) the announcers brought this up on numerous occasions, including when he was taken off the pitch in the 90th minute after scoring the second—and perhaps last—goal for RBL.
What would be most interesting is where Howe would put him in the lineup. He currently plays on the right-midfield side of a 4-4-2 formation, but his focus is heavily on the attacking side as he rushes forward often.
This season, Szoboszlai compiled 6 goals and 8 assists in 31 Bundesliga matches. On Saturday, I personally liked that he was the spot-kick taker for most of the set pieces on the right side. It’s a similar role to the one played by Leicester City player James Maddison, another attacking midfielder linked to Newcastle that actually entertained a bid of £50m from the Magpies last summer.
Both men are labeled as midfielders and are usually anchored on the right-hand side of the attack, but both are fantastic on the ball, can cut inside, and can score goals while also providing them to a striker.
Maddison, 26, has seen his stock take a dip lately following Leicester’s whimpering spiral out of the Premier League and into the Championship. On the flip side, he is most definitely EPL-proven, logging 10 goals and 9 assists this season over 30 league matches.
Szoboszlai is a Hungary international, and in a tight Borussia Dortmund-Bayern Munich title race not a lot of eyes were on RB Leipzig this season outside Germany, making him fly a bit under the radar. However, following his masterful performance in the German Cup final will makeSzoboszlai’s star shine as brightly as it’s ever done before. I would imagine if it’s not Newcastle, someone is going to trigger his €70m release clause this summer.
When it comes to Maddison, Newcastle would reportedly be competing for his signature with Tottenham, a club that currently has no manager, no sporting director, and an owner who has been vilified by the fanbase all season.
Anthony Gordon isn’t going anywhere, and as I stated above neither is Longstaff.
Based on prior bids and current links, it seems clear that the club intends to upgrade on Almiron/Murphy. A quick look into Spotrac information regarding player salaries shows Murphy at £35k a week and Almiron at £42k.
Callum Wilson, Bruno Guimaraes, and Fabian Schar are all currently negotiating extensions publicly with the Magpies board, and to me, the silence on Almiron’s front among other players speaks volumes of where things stand.
Will Murphy stay on as a role player... or would Almiron be willing to take a back seat from the starting lineup and into a diminished role?
What do you think Howe’s move will be, if the links are correct and upgrading the right side of the offense is the primary priority to improve the starting XI?
Next time, we’ll look at the left side of the pitch while also revisiting some familiar names on the move this summer like Marcus Thuram.
If you’ve got thoughts about what could happen to Newcastle’s right-side attack, or have heard names linked to the left flank, let us know in the comments section below!