After back-to-back defeats to open the campaign, negativity had started to fester at St James’ Park, with Rafa Benítez underlining the need for new signings before the end of the window.
“Yes, we have to,” he responded when asked whether new additions are required. “Nothing changed in the first two games and nothing has changed now. We have a clear idea of what we want to do and will try to do it.”
“The transfer window is open, we are coming from the Championship. We knew when we were in the Championship that we needed to sign players for the Championship and now we have to move people. We have too many people, we have to wait until September 1 and everything will be different.”
So who are the “Championship” players he refers to? And does he really need to sell them considering fellow promoted side Huddersfield Town have largely stuck by the same team and have achieved impressive results over the first three league games of the new season?
Goalkeeper Darlow is perhaps the best illustration of Benítez’s restlessness over the quality of his Newcastle United side. He might have been good enough to hold the number one place in the Championship, but the Spaniard clearly believes a higher standard of shot-stopper is required to keep the Magpies in the top flight.
Buying a goalkeeper at this stage of the transfer window is a risky business, but with Aston Villa, Middlesbrough and Reading all reported to be interested at one point or another over the summer, Benítez might be willing to gamble on the likelihood of finding a better option. It’s a ploy that could backfire.
Having made over 100 appearances for Newcastle United, Dummett has become part of the furniture at St James’ Park in recent years, proving himself as a valuable servant to the club. However, is Dummett good enough to truly impose himself as a starter at Premier League? It appears that Benítez doesn’t think so.
Unfortunately for the Spaniard, Dummett is on a long term contract at St James’ Park and might be quite content just to sit it out in the hope that he might change the mind of the manager over time. Nevertheless, Stoke City are reported to have expressed an interest in the 25-year-old. Maybe there’s a deal that could be done there.
The striker was Newcastle United’s top goalscorer in the Championship last season, but could soon find himself on the way out at St James’ Park. Gayle could probably cut it at Premier League level, but Benítez is still thought to be keen on an upgrade as he looks to find the goals that will keep the Magpies up.
That’s not to say Newcastle will sell Gayle on the cheap. In fact, recent reports claim that the North East club could ask for as much as £18 million for the 26-year-old, with Leeds United interested.
Those funds would be welcome and would give Benítez a bigger war chest to sign a replacement. It’s not so much that Gayle has no worth to Newcastle, it’s just that they can do better.
You might think the captain of a club would be safe from being sold on the cheap in the final days of the transfer window, but that may not be the case for Lascelles.
The 23-year-old might have might have played in all three Premier League games so far for the Magpies, but he has been badly exposed, in particular against Tottenham and Huddersfield.
Over time, it’s expected that summer signing Florian Lejeune will become the bedrock of Benítez’s defence. The Frenchman, however, suffered an injury in the season opener against Spurs, giving Lascelles a run in the first team for the time being.
It might be worth keeping him as a back-up option, but an offer for the centre back might tempt Benítez into boosting his coffers in order to find a higher calibre defender to bolster his backline with.