It has been a busy summer up at St. James’ Park as Rafa Benitez attempts to mould a squad capable of returning Newcastle United to the Premier League at the first attempt. So far, reinforcements in the shape of Matt Ritchie, Dwight Gayle, Isaac Hayden, Jesus Gamez and Matz Sels have arrived in the North East as the Magpies prepare for their upcoming Championship campaign.
Today, former England striker Peter Crouch has been linked with a move to the club in a move that would see him reunited with his former Liverpool boss, Benitez. The 35-year-old striker has fallen down the pecking order at Stoke City and a move to the Championship looked as though it would be on the cards this summer. With that in mind, a move to Newcastle would surely be a tempting prospect for Crouch, after enduring a frustrating season at the Britannia Stadium where he started just four games.
Benitez first signed the former England striker in 2005 when he brought him to Anfield for £7 million. Crouch arguably experienced the best years of his career under the Spaniard and the chance to play under him again at this stage in his career would likely appeal to him. Due to his 6 ft 7 frame, Crouch will always provide an aerial threat to opposition defences, and although he would be unlikely to start every game for Newcastle his height and experience would be a valuable option off the bench at Championship level.
With a number of wily, energetic forwards such as Gayle, Ayoze Perez and Adam Armstrong, all of whom are under six foot, as well as the aggressive approach offered by Aleksandar Mitrovic, Crouch’s height could come in use when Newcastle are struggling to get in behind opposition defences and could do with a plan B. He would be a perfect foil for the aforementioned players, and is capable of developing a good partnership with his fellow strikers – his relationship with Jermain Defoe whilst at Portsmouth is testament to this.
As his career comes to end Crouch will surely be looking for more playing time and his unique set of attributes means that he will surely have no shortage of suitors. However, one potential pitfall may be his wage demands. Very few teams at Championship level are likely to be able to afford the Macclesfield-born man’s wage demands and with Newcastle one of the very few teams who are likely to be able to afford them it would surely put them in a strong position should they decide to pursue him.
With Crouch having one year remaining on his Stoke contract, Benitez would have to pay to land his man. However, after spending a combined £22 million on Gayle and Ritchie, it appears as though Newcastle owner Mike Ashley is willing to back his manager this summer. All the signs suggest that Crouch’s services are there for the taking should Newcastle decide to make their move.
Meanwhile, what the signing would mean for Armstrong is uncertain. The 19-year-old scored 20 times whilst on loan at Coventry City, last year and Newcastle supporters had been hoping that he would be given his opportunity to shine this season. Should Benitez move for Crouch then Armstrong could end up as far back as the fifth choice at St. James’ Park.
Nevertheless, the Geordie faithful will be relatively pleased with the business that their manager has conducted so far this summer, and with the former England striker seemingly next on Benitez’s radar, it looks as though a strong squad is beginning to take shape up in the North East.
Featured Image: All rights reserved by Kieran Clarke