January transfer window could well save Newcastle’s season
Matt Haynes | January 29, 2016
Newcastle United can be the success story of the second half of the season in the Premier League. Coach Steve McClaren, who moved to the club in the summer, has had a rough ride of it so far, trying to get his new squad to gel, which included a number of signings.
January recruits could be pivotal
There has been a certain amount of trial and error for McClaren, who has seen his squad suffer from injuries and fail to click, however there have also been positive signs.
While they are just inside the relegation zone, owner Mike Ashley has recognised the need to strengthen considerably this winter window for the rest of the Premier League campaign and he clearly paid attention to his manager’s call for English talent.
The acquisitions of Jonjo Shelvey and Andros Townsend could spark a significant turning point for the Magpies, who are 66/1 with Coral for a top 10 finish, with both players having a point to prove. However, Ashley would be foolhardy to rest on his laurels.
With money accrued a new bonanza television revenue deal that starts next season, Premier League clubs are set to receive more cash than ever before,. Yet the Tyneside team’s status in the English top-flight is particularly under threat, so Ashley would be wise to further address other issues before the January transfer window closes.
Finisher needed to compliment creativity
It was clearly a gamble bringing in Serbian striker Aleksandar Mitrovic in the summer, one that hasn’t paid off. Still raw, he lacks the pace that Newcastle need up front; and while Ayoze Perez has an eye for goal, he is more effective in a withdrawn role.
This leaves the club with a couple of options. McClaren clearly wants want-away West Bromwich Albion striker Saido Berahino, though the Baggies have put a £30m pricetag on his head and may not be prepared to sell to a relegation rival. A difference of £10m in valuations between the two parties and even with Ashley’s recent willingness to splash the cash, he could deem this too much for one player.
A more sensible, and proven option could be to bring Loic Remy back to the Toon with the promise of first-team football. During his loan spell at Newcastle, when owned by QPR, he scored 14 goals in 27 appearances and a return would go a long way to appeasing fans.
With the likes of Georginio Wijnaldum, Shelvey, Townsend, Perez and even Moussa Sissoko already providing McClaren with requisite creativity; should Remy sign, they will then have a proven commodity to convert chances. The 29-year-old will also have his eye on a place in the French national squad for Euro 2016 and this could be a perfect opportunity to strengthen his case.
Firm foundation fundamental
Particularly troubling for Newcastle is the fact they are leaking goals, due to lack of quality defensive options. While club captain Fabricio Coloccini still can do a job, it is unlikely that at 34, he will be at the heart of their rearguard for much longer.
Injuries have meant that Steven Taylor has never realised his full potential throughout his career, while summer signing Chancel Mbemba has looked far from convincing, and never more stylish than in that Tuxedo before making his debut.
In an ideal world, Newcastle would bring in two quality centre backs; however, their current precarious position means that they aren’t as a desirable proposition as they could have been in the summer.
The Magpies have had great success recruiting Dutch talent recently, with Wijnaldum a great example, while Vurnon Anita is another who has shown consistency, as well as versatility in the middle of the park and at left back when needed.
Another, in the form of right back Daryl Janmaat highlights that going Dutch instead of English may be a wise alternative. McClaren is also unlikely to grumble, following his successful stint with FC Twente, so this makes for a fair compromise.
As a result, Ajax centre back Joel Veltman, who was once linked to Tottenham and Arsenal, could be an ideal signing and would slot straight in alongside compatriot Janmaat, with fellow countryman Tim Krul to return between the sticks next term.
Unlikely to cost over £10m, Veltman could be a solid investment and comes from the same production line that has developed Tottenham centre half pairing Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld, so he would be an ideal signing.
However the rest of the season unfolds for the club, the January transfer window could turn out to be pivotal.