Though it's hard to imagine that a team doing so well in the Premier League at the moment could possibly have gaping holes in their team, Newcastle United have a fair few areas to address going into the upcoming summer transfer window.
This season, Newcastle have relied on the performances of those who’ve not really been expected to produce in the past – like James Perch, for example – and, to their credit, they’ve succeeded. Next season, though, with European football beckoning, as well as the hope to make deeper runs in the two domestic cup competitions, Newcastle will need more depth and maybe a few upgrades on the starting unit.
Let’s take a look at the areas Newcastle need to address, and a few potential signings who could fill the role:
With Danny Simpson turning down a new contract earlier this season, there is a distinct possibility that he could be sold in the summer to make sure he isn’t lost for nothing in 2013, just as Newcastle did with Joey Barton last season. As a starter, Simpson would then leave a pretty big role to fill at the starting right back position, but some potential replacements have already emerged, even if Simpson remains at the club.
Aly Cissokho, Lyon – Though he is a left back, Aly Cissokho has been rumoured during the past two transfers to have sparked interest from Newcastle, and his arrival would likely move Davide Santon to right back in place of Simpson. Cissokho would instantly be one of Newcastle’s top defenders, the only problem will be getting to him before a richer club does.
Erik Pieters, PSV – Dutch international defender, Erik Pieters, is almost certainly going to be playing in black and white next season, and all the better for us, because he appears to be a fantastic talent. With the ability to start on either side of the pitch, Pieters already has a relationship with fellow Dutchman Tim Krul, and this could help his case for a position in the starting back four.
The return of Steven Taylor next season should see him moved right back into his rightful role in the starting lineup. That said, with so much football slated to be played next season, Newcastle need a little more than Mike Williamson and converted right back, James Perch, to back-up for the injury-prone Geordie.
Douglas, FC Twente – Brazlilian-born giant, Douglas Franco Teixeira, currently dominating the Eredivisie with his physical defence, may be the perfect player to not only back-up, but to even compete with Steven Taylor for a starting role next to Captain Colo. The centre-back has already told his club that he’s ready to depart to pursue a career in England, and Newcastle appear a perfect candidate for his signing.
Toby Alderweireld, Ajax – Belgian utility man, Toby Alderweireld, is basically an improved version of James Perch. With the ability to play anywhere on the back four, his presence on the bench could be exactly what Newcastle need. Having players with the versatility of Perch and Alderweireld on the bench would be a luxury for any Premier League team.
Though Newcastle are set in the middle with Yohan Cabaye and Cheik Tiote, back-up centre-midfielder Danny Guthrie is a free agent in 2012. With the African Cup of Nations being played again in 2013, Newcastle will need a quality player to cover for Tiote once again, as this season he went all the way to the final with the Ivory Coast. There’s also the worry that one of the two starters could be transferred from the club, though Tiote has calmed things with his latest comments on the matter.
James McCarthy, Wigan – James McCarthy is going to be a quality player in the Premier League, and if Wigan were to be relegated he’d be a hot commodity in the summer. Unfortunately, Wigan appear to be staying right where they are, which drives up the price for the starlet if he’ll even be available at all. If the Toon can get their hands on him, though, he’d be the perfect player to cover all four positions in midfield.
Hatem Ben Arfa has established himself this season as one of the Premier League’s most talented wingers. Gabriel Obertan, on the other hand, has done quite the opposite, and it appears that the Toon may need someone else to take his place on the bench backing up HBA.
Adam Johnson, Man. City – It’s highly unlikely that Adam Johnson will end up on Tyneside following the summer, but if the chips fall in Newcastle’s favour, and Man. City go on another spending spree – picking up a winger in the process, he could well be a potential signing. Having only started 10 games this season, he could even demand a move out of Manchester, but again, this is unlikely.
Juan Pablo Pino, Galatasaray – Colombian winger, Juan Pablo Pino, could be a cheaper alternative to Johnson and, as an under-the-radar player, Newcastle could have first dibs on the man who’s been on loan at Al Nasr for most of the season. He is a relative unknown over here, but if the rumours are true and Newcastle pick him up, he’ll likely join the list of the many fantastic scouting moves made under Graham Carr.
Newcastle have one of, if not the, best strike partnerships in the Premier League today, but one problem with the pair is that they may both miss a lot of football at the same time when they annually represent their home nation of Senegal in the African Cup of Nations. We must also take into consideration Demba Ba’s supposed knee issues, as if we believe Stoke manager, Tony Pulis, they’re a “ticking time-bomb”.
John Guidetti, Feyenoord (On Loan from Man. City) – John Guidetti’s recent record in the Eredivisie is almost comparable to that of Demba and Papiss Cisse in the Premier League – and that’s saying something. With 17 goals in his 18 league games this season, it’s hard to see there being too much of a goal-scoring drop-off between the Senegalese Sensations and Guidetti when they do eventually depart to play for their country. The key here will be convincing Manchester City to let him go, because really, there’s no single amount of money that will make them want to sell someone – it’s simply whether or not they think he’s good enough to start for their team.
Modibo Maïga, Sochaux – Sochaux Striker, Modibo Maïga, has been touted for an arrival on the Tyne since August of last year, and with the season soon ending, he could finally join the club. As yet another former Ligue 1 player, Maïga could fit nicely into a starting role and it appears that he really wants to be here, saying “they want me and it is not just any club. Premier League is a dream.”