Despite a general reluctance to dip into the lower leagues in search of new signings, the sole consolatory success of ingénues like Gael Bigirimana in Newcastle United’s otherwise tumultuous campaign, is testament to the vast seam of potential waiting to be tapped into; and surely represents a budget option more desirable to Wor Ashley, than any more future gambles on the more arcane reaches of Alsace-Lorraine.
With some of Newcastle’s French contingent struggling to adapt, it might be time to look closer to home. Of course, established Premier League talent will need to be brought in at some cost so as not to lose sight of that top eight target Mr. Pardew has already loosely promised, and I sincerely hope that these reports that Joleon Lescott wants out of Manchester City will not go unheeded; but if we’re going to replace the squad players who simply aren’t good enough anymore, ahem Jonas, I see no harm in economizing the second tier alongside some necessary marquees.
Mike Williamson and James Perch belong in the Championship, but there are a number of players who don’t. Let’s take a look at who we might want at the Toon:
Will Hughes, Derby County
Despite being just 18 years old, Hughes possesses great maturity and a superb passing ability to suit a man twice his age. Derby are desperate to hold on to the auspicious midfielder, but with The Rams foreseeably stagnant down below, a move up North might be just what the doctor ordered. He’s scored two league goals this season. That’s twice as many as Danny Welbeck.
Nathan Redmond, Birmingham City
This lad’s been touted for a while, and not without reason. A tricky winger with a ridiculous Tiote-esque haircut, I’d start him ahead of Obertan any day of the week. Redmond flourished under ex Newcastle manager Chris Houghton and even made a slight impact during Birmingham’s Europa League campaign last season, scoring against Portuguese club Nacional. Under new boss, Geordie old boy Lee Clark, the 19 year old has featured regularly too. His pace, tricks and reasonable (for an English player anyway) £6million asking price amid a financial scare for the Blues, definitely make him one to keep an eye on.
Thomas Ince, Blackpool
Given my emphasis on budgeting and his father’s ludicrous price tag, mentioning this chap might seem something of a misnomer; but given the quality that Ince has, it seems insulting not to give him some thought. In the mould of former Toon favorite Peter Beardsley, the 21 year old floats effortlessly between central and wide positions, gliding past defenders with an impressive turn of pace.
He has scored 24 league goals in just two seasons at Blackpool, leading father and manager Paul to apply his own bit of Zaharan economics, yet funnily enough I don’t think that argument will stand up in due course. Don’t get me wrong, he’s clearly better than Zaha, but Zaha was part of a logical vacuum, an inexplicable freak of business, much like the maths that goes on in Liverpool. I’m sure once people have sat down and had a think Ince will move for less than his Palace counterpart, but it might still be on the wrong side of £10million. Still, he’s worth considering, given Marveaux’s ostensible mediocrity.
Sam Byram, Leeds United
Full-back Byram recently signed a new contract with the Yorkshire club, but that does not stop him from being one of the most sought-after young players in the land. He has been the only ever-present in the Leeds line-up this term and has been lauded for his composure strong ability going forward. Naturally right footed, but able to play on either flank; this lad could be the utility man we’ve been lacking in Ryan Taylor’s absence. Surely it can’t hurt to trade one underachieving club for another, can it Sam? This one’s in the premiership…..just.