Now preparing for at least a season in the Championship, Newcastle United will have a number of tough choices to make during the summer transfer window.
We at FootballFanCast never agreed with the theory of the Magpies being simply too good to stay up, but their squad is unquestionably superior to those who join them in plummeting out of the Premier League – namely Aston Villa and Norwich City.
Indeed, some of the Toon’s top talents have attracted interest from the likes of Arsenal and Chelsea in the past, whilst a number of players are well into double digits in terms of international caps.
So although Newcastle would much prefer to build upon what they already have – a squad that will far exceed their Championship rivals – it seems inevitable they’ll have to surrender at least a few big-money names during the summer transfer window, if not for the sake of the club’s wage bill.
With that in mind and in case Rafa Benitez is in need of some advice, we’ve listed eight high-profile Newcastle stars; four the club should fight tooth and nail to keep and four they should look to cash-in on this summer.
A goalkeeper of Tim Krul’s international pedigree would undoubtedly be an invaluable asset in the Championship. But the Magpies are hardly short on numbers between the sticks; Rob Elliott has always delivered when stepping in for the Dutchman, whilst Karl Darlow more than proved himself in the second tier during his two-and-a-half campaigns as Nottingham Forest’s No.1. Almost certain to generate interest from top flights in Britain and abroad, Newcastle would be wise to cash in – especially considering they could lose the 28-year-old on a free transfer when his contract expires at the end of next season.
It’s safe to say Jonjo Shelvey’s Newcastle career hasn’t panned out as expected since arriving from Swansea City during the January transfer window, going on to register just eleven starts and finding himself surprisingly frozen out by former Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez. But few Championship players will be able to match the England international’s quality in possession and having signed him for a whopping £12million, the Magpies are almost certain to make a loss on a midfielder they signed just six months ago. Shelvey still has plenty of years ahead of him at the age of 24, so a season in the second tier shouldn’t be too much of an issue.
On his day, Moussa Sissoko’s performances for Newcastle have verged upon talismanic and the France international is clearly a very talented midfielder, especially when utilised in offensive capacities. But the frequency of those days have gradually reduced throughout his Tyneside tenure and on countless occasions this season he’s had almost no effect on the match at all. Unconvincing in attitude yet often linked with top-end clubs from the Premier League and yonder, the timing feels right for Newcastle to part company with the 26-year-old – hopefully picking up a decent fee in the process.
Target man Andy Carroll flourished during Newcastle’s last Championship campaign, to the extent that Liverpool shelled out a ridiculous £35million for him, and I predict similar development in regards to Aleksandar Mitrovic. The Serbian international has shown his potential this season, notching up nine goals, but is still very much a diamond in the rough and a year in the second tier would unquestionably help refine his game. Likewise, as an old-fashioned centre-forward of industry and aerial threat, the 21-year-old seems almost tailor-made for Championship football.
The fact of the matter is that Newcastle may not have much of a choice with this one. Georginio Wijnaldum was highly-rated during his spells with Feyenoord and PSV and has been one of the few players to regularly deliver for the Magpies this season, amassing eleven goals and five assists despite being continually jostled around the midfield. The 25-year-old is far too good for the Championship and probably knows it – so it’s just a question of whether Newcastle can find a buyer ready to match or improve upon their £14.5million investment.
Rumour has it Andros Townsend’s contract includes an £8million release clause that a number of Premier League clubs will surely be interested in activating this summer, especially if the winger continues to impress in his super-sub capacity for England at Euro 2016. But Rafa Benitez has undoubtedly been getting the best out of the 24-year-old, grabbing three goals and two assists in his last eight appearances, and he’d absolutely destroy Championship defences on the counter-attack. It all comes down to whether the Spaniard can convince Townsend to stay on Tyneside for another year.
Often a menace going forward yet always a liability when facing his own goal. Daryl Janmaat is one of those players who usually bags a few highlights Match of the Day but over the course of 90 minutes tends to cause as much harm as good. Right-backs are ten-a-penny for Championship clubs and I’m unconvinced the Dutch international has the heart for a season in the second tier. If the Magpies receive a decent offer for the 26-year-old, they should move him on and reinvest the funds in a more defensively-assured replacement.
With Moussa Sissoko, Georginio Wijnaldum and potentially even Andros Townsend moving on, keeping Ayoze Perez will guarantee Newcastle creative quality for their season in the Championship. Admittedly, the Spaniard isn’t the most equipped for the Football League’s often attritional style of play but he’s an incredible young talent who could benefit from a bit of toughening up. Much like Mitrovic, a year against lesser opposition could bring the best out of the 22-year-old. But highly-rated to the extent that he was once coveted by Barcelona, Newcastle may receive a bid simply too good to turn down.