Newcastle United have yet to clinch promotion, but they remain in the box seat in the Championship, sitting top of the division with eight matches to play. Although Rafa Benitez will maintain that his only focus is on the league run-in, there will be discussions going on behind the scenes about the summer recruitment that lies ahead.
The Magpies will want to make significant improvements to their squad to ensure they can compete in the top flight and Benitez will push the board to give him the tools that he needs. The Evening Chronicle report that the club are looking to add two strikers with Premier League experience if they are promoted. Andre Gray, Callum Wilson and Daniel Sturridge are all mentioned in this report.
What would they bring to Newcastle?
The Magpies have started to target more English talent and that looks set to continue this summer. Andre Gray is an interesting case as his contract at Burnley runs out at the end of next season. Newcastle have followed his progress in recent years, with the Telegraph reporting an interest in January 2016. They may be ready to take advantage of his contract situation this summer.
He is a quick and mobile centre-forward, capable of making runs in behind. The 25-year-old has had a good first season in the Premier League, scoring eight goals in a team that focuses on a being solid at the back. There is more to come from the striker and several clubs will be keeping an eye on him. However, Newcastle already have a similar striker in Dwight Gayle and it could be that they would be better suited looking elsewhere.
Another player that has been on the club’s radar for a while is Callum Wilson. Sky Sports reported that they were interested in a January move for the striker, but injury prevented that from happening. He has scored eleven Premier League goals since the Cherries were promoted to the top flight in 2015. Injuries have prevented him from reaching the heights that he promised during his early months in the Premier League.
Newcastle will be hoping that they can be the club that gets the most out of Wilson if they were to sign him. Like Gray, the problem is that he could be too similar to Gayle, but it could be that Newcastle are looking for a player with a similar profile to their current top scorer.
The final link will produce more excitement on Tyneside as Daniel Sturridge is one of the best strikers that has played in the Premier League in recent seasons. He has been hindered by injuries and is now struggling to fit into Jurgen Klopp’s system, as the German prefers to play with three mobile forwards, rather than a recognised striker.
The England international has a lot of technical ability and is capable of producing moments of magic. He is good at running with the ball and can score all sorts of goals. Sturridge certainly has a better goal record than the other two strikers discussed, but it would be a risk for Newcastle to buy him considering his injury record.
That said, it would send a message to the rest of the league that they are going to be a much bigger threat this time around.
Who would be the best fit?
They are all very good strikers and any of them could thrive at St James’ Park. Andre Gray may be the best option for the club considering he has had fewer injuries than the other two and has the potential to grow under the guidance of Rafa Benitez.
However, Daniel Sturridge would be an excellent signing and he should head up the list of striking targets this summer. He is likely to be on the move as he is no longer a first team regular at Liverpool. The England international is now 27-years-old and he will want to be the main man for his club side.
Newcastle are a club on the up and have an excellent manager in Benitez. Although it would be a step down, the Magpies remain a massive club and Sturridge to Newcastle could be a move that suits all parties.
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Lewis who? Adam Wilson on a path to Newcastle United first-team
After losing Lewis Gibson to Everton, Newcastle United have unearthed another gem in Adam Wilson.
Last July Newcastle United fans were left bitterly disappointed in the decision of Lewis Gibson to swap St James’ Park for Goodison Park.
Everton convinced the teenager to leave Tyneside for Merseyside in a deal the Liverpool Echo reported could eventually be worth around £6 million.
It was a shame to see the left-sided defender go and Newcastle fans believe they lost a huge talent, but those feelings have been slightly improved by the form of Adam Wilson at Newcastle.
Reports today are suggesting that Newcastle United are lining up a first professional contract for the player.
The Chronicle report that the Magpies will offer Wilson a two-year deal at the club, in the same week he was called up to the England under-18 side.
It is a reward for a player who has emerged as a regular in the Newcastle under-18s this season and since made his breakthrough into the under-23s.
The left-back is a far more attacking option than Gibson, but still operates in the same areas and has undoubtedly done a lot to let Newcastle forget all about their departed potential star.
This week will see England’s under-18s take on Argentina and Belarus, after already beating Qatar 4-0 in the other international friendly at St George’s Park.
Interestingly both Wilson and Gibson are in the England squad for the fixtures. For the Qatar game, Wilson started and Gibson watched from the bench.
It seems that Newcastle might already have their replacement for the £6 million man in their ranks.
In the end, the Magpies could even end up having the last laugh should Wilson continue on his current trajectory.
Will Newcastle United finally give Adam Armstrong his chance next season?
Adam Armstrong is currently in great form on loan at Blackburn Rovers.
Earlier this month, Blackburn Rovers forward Adam Armstrong was handed the League One Player of the Month award for February.
The England youth international, on loan from Newcastle United, thoroughly deserved the award, scoring four goals and bagging one assist in the same month he turned 21.
It was exactly the spell he needed to remind Toon supporters just how talented he is.
Armstrong, whose current record with Blackburn is seven goals in 12 games, was once considered the club’s most precocious talent.
It is now four years since Armstrong became the club’s second youngest player in Premier League history, when he replaced Luuk de Jong against Fulham.
However, the then 17-year-old has not progressed how he would have wanted at his parent club
Despite scoring 20 goals in 40 games for Coventry City in League One, back in 2015-16, he struggled to at subsequent loan spells with Barnsley and Bolton Wanderers.
Now, however, he looks back to his best. So should Newcastle finally pull the trigger on the striker next season?
Armstrong, who helped England to the FIFA Under-20 World Cup crown, is now 21 years of age and chomping at the bit to get first-team action at St James Park.
Newcastle United fans would love to see Armstrong feature in the first team. After all, the youngster is one of their own and clearly an immense talent.
If given the chance, and some playing time, he could hopefully translate his form with Blackburn to St James’ Park next season.
Not many youngsters have come through the ranks at Newcastle recently and Armstrong was always expected to be the next big star out the academy.
Hopefully, his excellent half of the season at Blackburn ends in promotion and further opportunities at the club he has supported since he was a little boy.
Victor Fernandez furthers Newcastle United first-team claims on Spain tour
The 19-year-old impressed as he featured against Belgian outfit Royal Antwerp.
Newcastle United recently travelled to Spain for a training camp as they attempted to deal with three weeks without a competitive fixture.
Rafa Benitez is an experienced manager and he will have realised the danger that such a gap could pose for his team, especially when it came to the fitness of the squad.
He arranged a training camp in his homeland, which culminated in a unique 135-minute match against Belgian side Royal Antwerp.
It consisted of three periods of 45-minutes, which allowed the manager to give playing time to the fringe players in his squad ahead of the run-in.
Although it gave the opportunity to experiment, only two youth players made the trip to Spain.
Nathan Harker was the back-up goalkeeper as both Rob Elliot and Karl Darlow were struggling with injuries.
The other, Victor Fernandez, caught the eye of Newcastle supporters watching.
Fernandez will be encouraged about further involvement with the first-team, as he was the only young outfield player to feature against Royal Antwerp.
That is a sign that Benitez considers the 19-year-old as one of the best prospects currently with the club.
The Spaniard joined the club just over a year ago from UE Cornella.
The signing went under the radar, but Benitez has an extensive scouting network and he obviously saw something in Fernandez.
Although he is predominantly a winger, he can play anywhere across the front-line is required.
Soon after joining the club, he spoke of not wanting to aim for too much too early when talking to the Newcastle United official club website:
“My purpose was not to make an impact really quickly, because I’m new and I have to get used to English football – it’s really different from Spain. I hope, little by little, I can keep doing good things here.”
Considering this was very quickly after his move to a new country, Fernandez’s words show maturity and show a glimpse into his character.
Benitez is a thorough manager who likes to know everything about the players that he brings to a football club.
There must have been something about the Spanish winger that made the Newcastle manager believe that he could adapt to English football.
There are no guarantees in football when it comes to young players fulfilling their potential.
However, the fact that Fernandez was taken on the mid-season tour to Spain suggests that he is on the right path.
He would have been offered guarantees about a route to the first-team squad and his involvement against Royal Antwerp will have been a reward for his progression since moving to St James’ Park.
He came on for the final 45-minutes and showed flashes of his ability.
There was some nice interplay with Dwight Gayle that resulted in the teenager having a shot on goal.
His trickery and direct style caused problems for his marker and he continued to excite those watching when the ball was his feet.
There is more developing for him to do before he is ready for the first-team in competitive action, but his performance against Antwerp was a positive one.
There is clearly talent there and he will be a player to follow over the coming seasons.
Newcastle are at the early stage of their development under Rafa Benitez and that will mean opportunities are there for young players.
Fernandez could have the ability to take his.
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