Currently sitting atop the EFL championship table & looking very likely to return to the Premier League at the first time of asking as in the season of 2009 – 10, Rafael Benitez’s Newcastle United are keeping their fans happy indeed. However, come January & the African Cup of Nations, the loss of key players – Mohamed Diame, Christian Atsu, Chancel Mbemba – in addition to Achraf Lazaar & possibly Cheikh Tiote could turn their smiles upside down.
Experienced as he is, Benitez is certain to have made plans to cover those areas adequately with a hopeful eye on a run out in the Premier League next season. With Mike Ashley firmly behind him & money left over from the summer sales, here are a few options that could help the Spaniard strengthen his squad:
A box-to-box midfielder who has represented the Scottish u-19 team but now plays for Australia, Irvine has been making a major impression in his first season in English football. Playing at Burton Albion, he’s given their hopes of staying afloat in the EFL championship a major boost with 7 goals already. The Toon Army would sure love to see him score a few more for them.
A gifted midfielder who has found first team opportunities at Chelsea hard to come by this season, but has impressed in his handful of outings with an assist & a standing ovation from the fans against Bristol Rovers in the League Cup. Benitez will be hoping to pull some strings from his days as Chelsea manager in the hope of securing something more than half a season’s loan deal for the Englishman who’s being strongly linked with a move to the Tyneside.
While the central defensive partnership of Jamal Lascelles & Ciaran Clark has been rock solid for the Magpies this season, their deputies have done little to challenge them for places in the first squad. Poundje has had his fair share of injury problems but given the relationship between his club Bordeaux & Newcastle, it would be no surprise to see him move to England at least as cover to see them through the season with an experienced head.
Another French player linked with Newcastle and one that shows plenty of promise. Currently on loan at US Orleans from his parent club Angers, he is on plenty of scouts’ radars after bagging 7 goals in his debut season in the MLS.
Of course, Benitez will be looking longingly at another Frenchman Florian Thauvin who has found his goal-scoring form at Marseille on loan from Newcastle, but with the French club obligated to buy him at the end of the loan spell; that’s a ship that has well & truly sailed.