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Analysing Newcastle United’s summer transfer window – what next for the club?

Jake Jackman

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Newcastle

Newcastle United have finished the transfer window in a worse position than they were at the beginning of it. They may have improved the squad and made six good additions, but their future is clouded in uncertainty and the feel-good factor of relegation has long passed. Rafa Benitez openly spoke of his unhappiness regarding the recruitment and he will be even more furious that further additions weren’t made during the last week.

The Chronicle report that Benitez freed more than £200,000-a-week from the wage budget by offloading a number of fringe players during the final week. However, he was given no license to then bring players in like he had expected and the lack of ambition from above is evident. The marriage between Mike Ashley and the Magpies’ boss was always going to be a fragile one. The recent transfer window shows how they contrast and it seems unlikely that they can work together for the long-term.

Positives

This will go down as a huge disappointment for Newcastle, as they failed to push on in the way that many expected them to, but they did make some good signings. Florian Lejeune looks to be a great signing and he improves their defence massively. Mikel Merino is another excellent addition and these two players show that Benitez can still find value in an inflated market. All six additions look capable of playing a part in first-team, but they should have added more.

Negatives

The biggest disappointment is that the club have sucked all of the enthusiasm out of the club. Last season, there was a positive mood and everyone was pulling in the same direction, but the club is now divided. Rumours continue to surface regarding Benitez’s future and there won’t be one Newcastle supporter that would think badly of the Spaniard if he did decide to walk out. He has ambition to manage at the highest level and he won’t achieve that under Mike Ashley.

It is a hugely questionable approach and it hasn’t changed, despite two relegations. Ashley continues to run Newcastle on a budget and it is clear he doesn’t understand football. Anybody looking at the squad at St James’ Park can see that it isn’t as strong as it needs to be. Their failure to sign a left-back is a huge error as they won’t have a recognised player in that position until Paul Dummett returns in November. The Magpies’ owner has taken a huge and unnecessary gamble this summer. If it backfires, he will lose Benitez and the club’s Premier League status.

What next?

The next few weeks will be fascinating as they will show us a lot about Benitez’s mindset. He is a professional and he will get on with things for now, but if an offer was incoming from another Premier League club, he might just consider it after this summer. There is no trust between him and Ashley now.

Supporters will be hoping that he stays, but it looks like he is approaching the end of his time as Newcastle manager. If he does leave, it will be the biggest crisis of the Ashley era and the owner will have nobody to blame but himself.

Jake is a journalist based in the South East. He is a Newcastle United fan and has a keen interest in Dutch football. Jake can be found on Twitter here - @jakejackmann.

Tottenham Hotspur

Alireza Jahanbakhsh perfect alternative to Malcom if Tottenham miss out

The Iran international scored 22 league goals last season.

Liam Thomas

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Alireza Jahanbakhsh
Photo: Getty Images

Tottenham Hotspur are edging closer to signing Brazilian starlet Malcom from Bordeaux with the 21-year-old keen to make the switch from Ligue 1 to the Premier League, according to The Sun.

However, despite the apparent interest from Spurs, no formal bid has been made by the North London side and, considering the rife competition for the youngster’s signature from around Europe, other alternatives should be considered.

This is where Iranian World Cup star Alireza Jahanbakhsh comes into the mix. The talented 24-year-old forward could be the perfect alternative to Malcom if Spurs miss out on signing the Brazilian starlet.

You only have to look as far back as last season to see the quality Jahanbakhsh possesses. Plying his trade in the Eredivisie with AZ Alkmaar the forward managed to notch up an impressive 22 goals and 14 assists in 39 appearances for the Dutch side.

(Photo by Saeed Khan/Getty Images)

This killer instinct in front of goal is something Spurs have been craving to lift some of the pressure off of talisman Harry Kane’s shoulders in recent seasons.

Furthermore the Iranian international has to ability to play anywhere along the front three and is equally capable of playing with both feet, two traits which led to Spurs’ interest in Malcom in the first place.

However, despite the forwards fantastic record and undeniable talent, there will always be an element of risk when requiring a player from the Dutch top flight, with many players in the past failing to step up and settle into life in the Premier League.

Nevertheless, Jahanbakhsh’ World Cup performances for Iran proved he is more than capable of stepping up to play on the big stage. This is something Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino should consider if they miss out on signing Malcom.

It remains to be seen whether or not Tottenham will land the signature of Bordeaux’s Malcom. However, if they don’t, Jahanbakhsh could prove to be a savvy bit of business and a cheaper alternative.

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Liverpool

Does Allan have a future at Liverpool after nomadic loan spells?

Liverpool brought in the talented midfielder three years ago but he has yet to play for the club.

Mathew Nash

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In the summer of 2015, pictures emerged of an unknown footballer in training with Liverpool’s first-team. It soon emerged that the player in question was Allan Rodrigues de Souza. Liverpool had signed Allan from Internacional in a deal reported to be in the region of £500,000. He looked like a great signing for the future and went on to play exceptionally well during a loan spell at SJK, helping them to their first Finnish title.

But since then it has been something of a struggle for the midfielder. Subsequent loan spells at Sint-Truiden in Belgium, Hertha Berlin in Germany and Apollon Limassol in Cyprus have been less of a hit. His last spell ended when a shoulder injury needed surgery and he has struggled with his nomadic career path since.

(Photo credit should read CARMEN JASPERSEN/AFP/Getty Images)

One pressing issue is his need for a work permit. So far the 21-year-old has not yet managed to procure one and can therefore not play for the club.

Even if he did, it seems Allan would be some way away from the first-team picture at Liverpool.

When he first arrived and was sensational on loan in Finland it was excitement with trepidation considering the standard of football in the nation.

Now Liverpool fans will be wondering if the player will ever make it at Anfield. With his contract expiring next summer 2018-19 could be last-chance saloon.

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Stoke City

Gary Rowett opens the door for Robert Huth’s return to Stoke

Martyn Cooke

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Robert Huth
Photo: Getty Images

Stoke City boss Gary Rowett has opened the door for Robert Huth to return to the club on a permanent basis as the central defender continues to train with the first team squad as he attempts to regain his fitness.

The German was released by Leicester City at the end of last season following a hugely successful three-year stint at the King Power Stadium which included their historic Premier League title triumph in 2016.

Subsequently, he approached Stoke at the start of the summer and has been allowed to train with Rowett’s squad whilst he looks for a new club.

Huth remains a popular figure at the Bet365 Stadium having made over 150 appearances for The Potters over the period of half-a-decade following a £5 million transfer from Middlesbrough in 2009.

The 33-year-old formed a dominant central defensive partnership with Ryan Shawcross that provided the solid foundation on which the club’s modern success was built.

(Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

The notion of Huth re-signing for Stoke is a romantic concept, one that many Stoke supporters will be keen to see, and Rowett told the Stoke Sentinel that the door is still open for the German defender.

“He’s coming to train. We’ll see how it is for both parties and we’ll assess it as we go along … We’ll try to help him and that’s where we are at the moment. I don’t think there’s any real rush to make a decision.”

“There’s no strings attached for either party but come in and train, we’ll get you involved – we’re a little bit short in terms of numbers in that area anyway.”

Stoke are currently short of central defensive options following the departures of Kevin Wimmer (on loan to Hannover 96), Marc Muniesa (who has signed for Girona) and Kurt Zouma (who returned to Chelsea following the conclusion of his loan spell) as the club adapts to life outside the Premier League.

With that in mind, Huth’s availability as a free agent and his pre-existing standing within the club makes him an attractive option as Rowett continues to re-mould his squad in preparation for the new season. He has already featured heavily in Stoke’s early pre-season activities and fixtures whilst he is also likely to be joining the club on their tour of Germany.

However, Rowett is right to be cautious about signing the German defender.

Huth did not make a single appearance for Leicester last season as he struggled with a string of injuries and fell considerably down the pecking order at the King Power Stadium whilst, at 33 years of age, he is stepping into the twilight of his career.

Could he realistically adapt to the physical demands of the Championship where there is a requirement to play two matches most weeks as part of a demanding fixture schedule?

Furthermore, Stoke should be looking to the future rather than attempting to recreate previous glories.

(Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

Whilst Huth remains a legend in the eyes of supporters he would only provide a short-term solution and will undoubtedly return as a very different player than the one that last played at the Bet365 Stadium in 2015.

Rowett is quite rightly looking to bring in a new generation of young, fresh and hungry talent which will be led by new signing Oghenekaro Etebo, Nigeria’s 21-year-old World Cup star. Does Huth fit within those parameters? Probably not.

Whilst Huth’s return may be a somewhat romantic notion that would certain provide a short-term solution to the club’s lack of defensive cover, on a practical level which looks at the long-term in would leave much to be desired.

Ultimately, much may depend, as it so often does in football, on money.

Stoke have already made significant moves in the transfer market following the arrivals of Etebo and Benik Afobe whilst they have been linked with a string of other big-money signings.

Without the safety net of Premier League TV revenue the signing of Huth on a free transfer could allow Rowett to focus his investment on strengthening other areas of the team.

So the door is certainly open for Huth to return on a permanent basis, although Rowett will need to decide whether his focus is on the short-term or long-term future of the club.

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