After focusing on the right-side attack in my last Summer Transfer Window column, where I shared my opinion about one of the more difficult decisions of the summer—upgrading from Jacob Murphy or Miggy Almiron—it’s time to keep the ball rolling.
Sean Longstaff fits Eddie Howe’s starting formation perfectly and Aaron Gordon will have this season to prove that he can contribute to the roster.
Sadly, a fan favorite and lone bright light during those years in the doldrums under Steve Bruce gave a clue that seems to indicate changes may be incoming to bolster the left side of the attack.
In Howe’s 4-3-3 formation, we saw a frequent combination of Joe Willock, Joelinton, and Alexander Isak attacking the opposition from the left side of the pitch.
All season long, it was never totally clear why Allain Saint-Maximin suddenly had fallen out of favor as the preferred attacker, but as the campaign wore on his absence was attributed to knocks, catching up on fitness issues, or niggling muscular injuries. There are many fans, myself included, who hoped that he simply needed the chance to get healthy so that he could make his triumphant return this Fall.
If you reference a recent Instagram post that doesn’t seem to be the case.
While some could interpret this passionate note to the Newcastle faithful as a reflection of his time at Tyneside, verbiage like “I am now entering a turning point in my career,” and references to joining while the team was in a slump clearly indicate that there is, at the very least, some frustration with the lack of playing time and that the man is already looking at future opportunities, probably far from Newcastle.
There are long-time links to Inter Milan, and also to fellow Italy’s capital club AC Milan who are linked to Christian Pulisic. As an American, you won’t find a bigger fan than Pulisic here, but after the last few seasons, it's highly unlikely Chelsea will make any profit on their €64m acquisition. If Milan do want Pulisic, there is a very clear path to obtaining the winger at a cheaper weekly sum, should he actually request the transfer.
Saint-Maximin’s exit would require possible investment in the left midfield role that would temporarily be filled by Joelinton while Joe Willock recovers from serious injury (or any absence down the road once next season kicks off), so let’s focus there first.
If you watched Celta Vigo’s La Liga finale against Barcelona, when they defeated Xavi’s team to save themselves from relegation, you witnessed an amazing audition and emotional goodbye to his boyhood club from attacking midfielder Gabriel Veiga. Not only did he score both goals in the 2-0 victory, but the 21-year-old played with speed and power every time he was involved in the attack.
It was even more impressive when compared with another prospect linked to similar teams across Europe in Arda Guler, already labeled the “Turkish Messi.”
Being part Turkish and a Fenerbahce fan, there are massive hopes piled onto the 18-year-old’s shoulders. On the other hand, there is a history of Turkish prospects entering top European leagues too early and crippling their careers. For a quick reference just Google Nuri Sahin’s time at Real Madrid.
Guler made little impact during Sunday’s Superlig finale, during which his team were dominated 3-0 and finished the game with ten men. He’s currently linked to Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund, Newcastle United (per The Hard Tackle), as well as Arsenal FC. Veiga is ready to start in the EPL right now, but Guler is not (though I would love the arrival of both).
Should Howe want a straight replacement for Saint-Maximin on the left wing, there are two intriguing options who both have their contracts expiring on June 30: Wilfried Zaha of Crystal Palace and Marcus Thuram of Borussia Monchengladbach.
Most will be familiar with Zaha, the long-time Eagles talisman who has spent over a decade scoring 80 goals for the club where he spent his youth career. There has always been the 2013-2015 blemish on his career when he joined Manchester United and struggled to find playing time and ended up on multiple loans.
At 30 years old, Zaha struggled at times this season and he was absent for much of Roy Hodgson’s coaching return that saw Crystal Palace comfortably climb out of relegation. But finishing with 7 goals this season and being available on a free transfer, he’s been linked to top Premier League clubs for weeks on end. Would joining the Magpies for a run at the Champions League make sense?
One of the big prizes available for free this summer will be Marcus Thuram, the French 25-year-old son of famed World Cup champion Lillian Thuram. Now a free agent and coming off a season in which he scored 13 goals and provided 6 assists through 30 games in the Bundesliga for Monchengladbach, he will inevitably go to a top club this summer.
While Thuram has been linked to Arsenal, Chelsea, and Liverpool most prominently as a striker, I actually see him as a winger in the EPL. His speed and physicality would be perfect on the wing where he plays for the French national team alongside Kylian Mbappe and/or Olivier Giroud—just imagine the switching Howe could do between a Thuram, Callum Wilson, and Alexander Isak trio!
Losing the X-Man would be a huge blow, but would Thuram’s arrival make it worth it? What are your thoughts? Let us know in the comments section below!