Newcastle United are back in the big time and their fixtures were released on Wednesday morning, as the excitement builds on Tyneside ahead of the new season. They start their campaign with a home match against Tottenham Hotspur, which happened to be the fixture that ended their last run in the Premier League.
The Magpies recorded an excellent 5-1 win on that day, although they had already been relegated to the Championship. They close their season welcoming the current Premier League champions, Chelsea, to St James’ Park.
Rafa Benitez will be delighted with the fixtures that his team have been given, as they don’t face another top six side after the opening day until the 30th September, when they welcome his old club Liverpool to Tyneside. There is a good opportunity for the club to pick up points early on and put a substantial points gap between them and the bottom three. The Spaniard won’t be aiming for Premier League survival as his primary goal, but it is the first hurdle for the team to overcome.
Pepe Reina has been heavily linked with a move to Tyneside and his agent has admitted that the Premier League is an option for his client. The Chronicle report that the club have explored the option of signing the Spaniard, but they are not convinced that he is worth paying the £5 million asking price. Manuel Garcia Quillon, the player’s agent, told Calciomercato:
“The Premier League? We’re talking about an important player who a lot of teams would like, but his priority is to stay with Napoli.
“Is a renewal impossible? I don’t know, we discussed it but for now we haven’t moved forward.”
He is coy in his comments, but they suggest that the goalkeeper has an uncertain future and that a move is possible for the Spaniard. Although he is getting to the end of his career, he would be a great signing for Newcastle, which would send out a statement of intent to the rest of the division. Also, he would be a great figure to have around the training ground, especially for Freddie Woodman, who is considered the future Magpies’ number one.
If Reina was to sign for the club, they would have to make room by selling at least one of their existing goalkeepers. The Chronicle report that Fenerbahce are interested in ending Matz Sels’ nightmare spell on Tyneside, with a loan deal for the Belgian. There has been a lot of interest in the keeper and Newcastle would want to recoup some of the £5.5 million that they paid last summer.
The Magpies need to sell players in order to increase the spending power that Benitez has. Sels has had a poor season in England and it is clear that he isn’t fancied by the United boss. He is a player that they need to get off the books and a loan deal would be a good move from the club. Karl Darlow and Rob Elliot are ahead of him in the pecking order, while Tim Krul is set to return to add competition for the starting position.
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