Sky Sports pundit Stuart Pearce believes that Newcastle United need to sign a top-class striker if they want to consider bridging the gap to the top six of the Premier League.
The Magpies have successfully kept themselves in the top flight for a second season on the bounce, which is a credit to manager Rafael Benitez for his work with a squad that lacks big money signings.
They are currently 13th-placed in the league table clear of relegation danger and there has once again been some decent performances this season.
Newcastle’s success is largely built upon a solid defence that is difficult for opponents to face, but there his a clear lack of quality going forward.
Ayoze Perez (11) and loanee Salomon Rondon (10) are the club’s top goalscorer across all competitions this term, but the next on the list is a string of players with just three each.
Pundit Pearce feels that with a proven 20-goal centre-forward and perhaps a couple more additions Newcastle could even bridge the gap to the top six.
They are 23 points behind sixth-placed Manchester United this campaign and there are six sides far superior to the rest in the division, but it will be intriguing to see if anyone can break into it.
“[Newcastle need] a striker that’s going to get the 20 goals a year like Shearer or Ferdinand,” Pearce told Sky Sports programme The Debate (25 April).
“All of a sudden you can add one or two more to it. They’re really good at defending as Rafa is very good at setting his team up, but if you knew they had a striker who could get 20 goals I think they would get really close to the top six.”
Newcastle fans would love if the club could bring a 20-goal striker to St James’ Park for next year, but it’s likely to take some considerable investment and they only just broke their transfer record in January for Miguel Almiron.
There is a brilliant foundation in defence that Benitez has built, but they lack firepower going forward and perhaps creative midfielders too.
The front three of Rondon, Perez and Almiron have formed quite the understanding in recent weeks, but it’s unlikely they have the ammunition to fire a team like Newcastle into the dizzy heights of the top six.
Avoiding relegation will once again be the aim next year if the squad remains similar, but with the right signings they should be competing to be the best of the rest outside the top six.