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Three things we learnt from Newcastle’s pre-season victory over Wolfsburg

Jake Jackman




Newcastle United managed to win their penultimate game of pre-season against Wolfsburg by a 3-1 scoreline.

Despite conceding a lot of possession to start with, the Magpies grew into the game and offered the bigger threat going forwards.

Jonjo Shelvey was pulling the strings, while Ayoze Perez caused problems with his movement in the final third.

The first goal was a simple finish for Aleksandar Mitrovic and the lead was added to by a superb Matt Ritchie free-kick before half-time.

Wolfsburg got back into it through Yunus Malli from the spot, but a strike from Christian Atsu sealed the win for the Magpies.

Here are three things that we learnt from the Magpies victory…

Aleksandar Mitrovic remains a frustrating talent

The Serbian splits the Newcastle fan-base and he showed why in Germany.

There are a group of supporters that want the club to cut their losses with him this summer, due to his inconsistency and unreliability on the pitch. Meanwhile, others believe that he is a huge talent and worth persevering with for the next season at least.

Against Wolfsburg, he netted the opening goal and got into goal-scoring positions regularly. He caused the Bundesliga side problems, but it wasn’t a flawless performance by any stretch of the imagination.

Mitrovic has always been a hot-head and that is a side to his game that hasn’t improved as much as Rafa Benitez would have hoped since he took charge of Newcastle.

He was booked in the first-half after an altercation with the goalkeeper, as he let frustration get the better of him.

Benitez knows that he can’t rely on the striker to stay out of trouble and that makes him a liability when he is on the pitch. His body language makes him seem uninterested at times and his movement can be poor.

There is a player in there and at the age of 22, he remains at the start of his career, but he needs to show signs of maturing soon, or his future will be away from St James’ Park.

Jonjo Shelvey will be key to Newcastle this season

Since arriving back for pre-season training, it has been obvious that Shelvey is looking forward to returning to the Premier League.

He has slimmed down over summer and appears to be in the best shape of his career.

The England squad will be his target and if he has a strong, consistent and uncontroversial season for the Magpies, he has a chance of making it to the World Cup.

Benitez will want his team to play counter-attacking football and the passing ability of the midfielder is vital to making a success of it.

Against Wolfsburg, he was the main creator of the side as he was getting on the ball in dangerous areas and consistently picking the right pass to create a promising opening for the team.

Perez and Atsu benefited from it time and time again, as their movement gave Shelvey the opportunity to display his playmaking quality.

For the third goal, the centre midfielder showed a different side to his game, as he burst in behind the opposition defence and was composed in the area skipping past a challenge before putting it on a plate for Atsu.

His decision making is improving rapidly and he will be fun to watch this season.

Newcastle need another striker

This was known before the match, but the changes made by Benitez on Wednesday highlighted it even more.

Mitrovic has been discussed above and he was the player leading the line against Wolfsburg. He may be frustrating, but the Magpies can’t afford to sell him as he is one of only two natural strikers in the squad.

The Serbian was taken off at half-time and Perez was moved into the lone front role.

Although he can play there, he is better in a deeper role and Newcastle would be taking a risk entering the season with him as their third-choice centre forward.

It could be that Benitez was using Perez there in Germany to send a message to the board that he needs a stronger squad.

Dwight Gayle didn’t feature and that was probably Benitez protecting the player ahead of the new season.

The Englishman is vital to Newcastle and any injury would significantly damage their chances of starting the season strongly.

They need to move fringe players on to improve their finances, but a new striker is a must. If they don’t sign one, it could prove to be a costly mistake.

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.


Could Arsenal’s new project lure Newcastle captain Jamaal Lascelles to London?

The Newcastle captain had a terrific debut season in the Premier League.

Liam Thomas



Jamaal Lascelles
Photo: Getty Images

Newcastle captain Jamaal Lascelles enjoyed a terrific debut season in the Premier League and as such has found himself the subject of many transfer rumours since the window reopened on the 17th May.

However, according to the Chronicle Live, it would take a hefty transfer fee to make Newcastle part ways with one of their prized assets and captain.

Despite this, Arsenal should consider making a move for Lascelles to strengthen their defence and there’s no hiding the fact new Gunners boss Unai Emery is concerned about his sides defensive frailties.

(Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

At 24 years of age, Lascelles has the youth and energy needed to survive the harsh Premier League calendar and this is something Arsenal’s defence has lacked in recent seasons; a defence which under Arsene Wenger became lazy and lax.

New Arsenal boss Unai Emery has already invested in Borussia Dortmund’s Sokratis Papastathopoulos to strengthen his back line, but it might take a considerable amount of persuasion to convince Lascelles to follow suit and make the Emirates stadium his new home.

However, it’s not every day a club of Arsenal’s statue come knocking, and to be part of the clubs new exciting chapter may be the perfect antidote to lure Lascelles away from St James’ Park.

“Nothing changes. The speculation might not even be true. Since I was a kid, there’s always been teams interested, speculation, paper talk and stuff on Twitter, and things like that. It doesn’t mean anything to me.”

Newcastle captain, Jamaal Lascelles, regarding the speculation surrounding his future.

But what would Lascelles bring to Arsenal back line? Leadership and stability, two traits that Arsenal’s centre back duo of Laurent Koscielny and Shkodran Mustafi ultimately lacked throughout the 2017/18 Premier League season and two qualities that the Gunners desperately need to be reincorporated into their defence.

It remains to be seen whether or not the new Arsenal boss will break the bank to bring the talented centre back to North London. However, there are not many other defenders in Europe who could come in and do the job as well as the 24-year-old Newcastle captain would.

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Newcastle United

Five ins and outs Newcastle could complete this week

Benitez is ready to swing the axe in order to fund new arrivals.



Photo: Getty Images

Rafael Benitez did a stellar job with Newcastle United last season as he pushed the Magpies to Premier League safety but work needs to be done this summer.

The Tyneside giants have moved quickly to sign Martin Dubravka from Sparta Prague following his impressive period on-loan and have brought Kenedy back from Chelsea for another spell, as well as signing South Korea ace Ki Sung-Yeung on a free transfer from Swansea City.

Benitez continues to eye further business in the market though and it could be a busy week, as reports suggest these five deals could be concluded.

Isaac Hayden to Brighton

Sky Sports reported that Isaac Hayden has handed in a transfer request at Newcastle as he intends to move back down south for family reasons, although the Magpies are standing firm on their desire not to sell for the time being.

Player power is significant in the modern transfer market though and an exit for Hayden looks likely, with The Argus stating Brighton are eyeing a move after holding long-term interest in the former England U21 international.

That report suggests a fee of around £10m could be enough to tempt Newcastle into a sale, although the Magpies may look to land a replacement first having already lost Mikel Merino to Real Sociedad.

(Photo by ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP/Getty Images)

Matt Phillips: West Brom

Newcastle lacked consistency in the final third last season and will look to solve that problem this summer, with the Daily Mail stating West Brom’s Matt Phillips is one player being targeted by Rafael Benitez’s side.

Newly-promoted Cardiff City, alongside promotion hopefuls Middlesbrough, are also linked with the services of the 27-year-old Scottish international, which the report says will cost any interested party around £11m.

However, the Chronicle states Newcastle have not made a move to land Phillips from relegated West Bro and are instead pursuing alternative targets in the market – although that does not mean a transfer will not materialise.

Matt Ritchie to Stoke

Newcastle’s continued pursuit of attacking players means that a shake-up to the current squad is likely and it means that departures are likely to go ahead, with The Northern Echo stating Stoke want to conclude a deal for Matt Ritchie this week.

The report adds that Newcastle are ready to sell if their valuation of £15m for the Scotland international is met by the recently-relegated side and Stoke have money to spend following the sale of Switzerland international Xherdan Shaqiri to Liverpool.

Stoke have already seen a bid of around £12m rejected by Newcastle, the report adds, but a second offer is on the horizon.

(Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

Andros Townsend: Crystal Palace

Newcastle’s aim to bring Andros Townsend back to Tyneside goes hand-in-hand with Matt Ritchie’s proposed move to Stoke, as the Chronicle state the Magpies will not sign Townsend unless the Scotland international is sold.

Townsend left Newcastle for Crystal Palace two-years ago in a deal worth a reported £13m, just six months after arriving at St. James’ Park, and it is suggested that a fee of around £17m will be enough to tempt the Eagles into a sale.

“Your name can be linked with other clubs every transfer window it seems, but you have just got to get on with it and focus on what you are doing for the club you are contracted to until that changes.”

Andros Townsend speaks about the speculation on his future.

Ivan Toney to Sunderland

The writing appears to be on the wall for Ivan Toney at Newcastle, as the Chronicle reports the 22-year-old has been exiled from the first-team and told to find a new club as the Magpies look to clear out the fringe players from their squad.

Toney spent part of last season on-loan with Scunthorpe United, scoring eight goals in 16 league appearances, and a return to the third-tier is on the cards as Sunderland look to sign the young striker, the Chronicle has said.

A potential transfer to Wearside would likely be on-loan but Sunderland would be signing a player with impressive experience of League One, having helped to guide three clubs to the playoffs – twice with Scunthorpe and once with Barnsley.

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Slammed by Alan Shearer, £15m flop Florian Thauvin is now a World Cup finalist

The Newcastle United flop has turned his career around since his woeful spell at St James’ Park.

Mathew Nash



When Newcastle United saw one man warming up during the World Cup semi-final last night it left many aghast. The player in question was Florian Thauvin, who briefly threatened to come onto the pitch in place of Olivier Giroud.

Now, Newcastle fans will be equally amazed that the Frenchman is a World Cup finalist.

The Toon spent big to bring in Thauvin. Back in the summer of 2015, Newcastle paid a reported £15 million plus Remy Cabella on loan to Marseille for Thauvin’s services.

His time at St James’ Park bordered on shambolic. Thauvin played 13 times for Newcastle but was loaned out after just six months, heading back to Marseille.

(Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

His time at Newcastle became synonymous with the failure of the previously fruitful French market for the club. His biggest impact was his fashion sense. The in-joke of several newbies to wear a tuxedo as their matchday suit drew ire from legend Alan Shearer and left Thauvin feeling isolated.

“He turns up in a tux. This is a serious business we’re in here, it was funny on the first day of the season, it’s not funny anymore.

– Newcastle legend Alan Shearer after Thauvin’s performance v Watford in September 2015

Since then, he has proven just why Newcastle invested £15 million in his services. This season has been sensational for the 25-year-old, who is now at Marseille permanently. He played 54 times for his club, scoring 26 goals and bagging 18 assists, as l’OM made the Europa League final.

Newcastle fans will no doubt wonder what might have been from Thauvin. But perhaps he was simply not right for the club in his younger years.

He will now hope to make an appearance in the final this Sunday. But if not, he may still come away with a World Cup winner’s medal.

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