With Newcastle United finishing the calendar year in an encouraging position a mere 4 points off the Champions League places, it is clear that with a bit of investment, the club could find themselves ending the season in a similar vein to that of 2011/12 – challenging for European qualification.
Perhaps the area in which this investment would be most appreciated is in attack. Throughout the season it has been obvious that, despite significant contributions to the overall goal-tally from Yoan Gouffran (with 6) and Yohan Cabaye (with 5), there is a real over-reliance on Loic Remy – 3rd top scorer in the Premier League at the time of writing – to produce match-winning moments.
Indeed, of the other senior strikers in the squad, Shola Ameobi and Papiss Cisse have managed between them the meagre total of 1 goal in the league this term. Although I do believe that Cisse is not a lost cause and will eventually come good, the club could really benefit from having another top quality striker during the run-in.
Not only does this point to an obvious lack of quality up front, but there is clearly not sufficient depth in the squad to cover for potential injuries in an attacking area. With Adam Campbell sent out on loan to St Mirren in the Scottish Premiership, the club is left with only three natural central strikers – that is, if we are to consider Gouffran as a winger.
Another striker is surely needed to beef up the squad – especially as, at this moment in time, Remy is not even owned by Newcastle United.
The identity of this forward is the next issue. Firstly we must ask what type of player we need to invest in. For me, we should be looking at a strong target-man with good hold up play. Remy and Cisse are similar in as much as they both enjoy playing off the shoulder of the last defender, but Shola provides the only viable target for the long-ball game which Pardew occasionally favours. In terms of personnel, in my opinion this would rule out the likes of Shane Long and Danny Ings whom have been previously linked with Newcastle: both are in the mould of Remy and Cisse.
So who should be targeted? Quality is often limited in January; but under the ownership of Mike Ashley, Newcastle have actually looked to take advantage of the mid-season window, spending over £20 million on 6 players in the past two January transfer windows.
Particular January coups include Gouffran and Moussa Sissoko, both of whom were nearing the ends of their contracts: an irresistible temptation for the usually stringent Ashley. With this in mind, perhaps Newcastle could look to purchase Lyon’s Bafetimbi Gomis: having been heavily linked last summer. The Frenchman’s contract runs out at the end of this season, and with the 27 year-old having already indicated that he intends to start the new season elsewhere, Gomis could well be available for a cut-price deal.
For me, a new striker is a must if the Newcastle management and board are seeking to push for European places this season. Ultimately however, securing the signing of Loic Remy on a permanent basis should be Alan Pardew’s first and foremost transfer concern this winter.