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Where Newcastle Need to Strengthen Ahead of European Return

03 Jul 2023
James O'Connor 03 Jul 2023
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  • The Magpies announced the £55m signing of AC Milan’s Sandro Tonali
  • Two top targets in James Maddison and Dominik Szoboszlai have gone elsewhere
  • More business is needed with fullbacks and wingers being targeted
Sandro Tonali is the first of several big signings Newcastle could make (Getty Images)

Tonali boosts midfield quality

The big-money signing of 23-year-old Italian international Sandro Tonali is Newcastle’s only summer signing so far. The fee of £55m is just below the club’s transfer record spent of £59m spent on Alexander Isak. 

The midfielder largely played in a double pivot at Milan and could either takes Sean Longstaff’s role on the right of the midfield three of Eddie Howe could switch to a 4-2-3-1 shape. Tonali will add energy and ball-carrying ability whilst he was likened to Andrea Pirlo for his passing ability. 

On the evidence of his UEFA Champions League displays last season, there are still improvements to be made. Tonali can improve his tracking of runs and his passing when aggressively closed down. Another midfielder could also be targeted with Scott McTominay perhaps a suitable option.
  • Tonali boosts midfield quality
  • Creative outlets go to rivals outside the Champions League
  • Wide Areas Ripe for an Upgrade
  • Fullbacks to fall back on
  • Summary – three or four more to come

Creative outlets go to rivals outside the Champions League

In this summer window, and even going back to January, it was clear that the Magpies wanted to add more creativity to their team. James Maddison was a major target but he instead chose the bright lights and lucrative salary on offer at Tottenham. 

Dominik Szoboszlai’s release clause was triggered by Liverpool and the Hungarian was sorely focused on joining the Merseyside giants. Losing out on those two targets means Newcastle still need that sort of player – someone who can unlock deep defences and who could play either narrow on one wing or as a number ten at times. 

Perhaps someone like Dani Olmo at RB Leipzig could be an alternative. Otherwise, they may have to wait for another suitable number ten to tickle their fancy. 

Wide Areas Ripe for an Upgrade

If we look at who the Toon have on the flanks, it feels like an injection of extra quality is needed. Jacob Murphy and Miguel Almiron are lightning quick and Allan Saint-Maximin is a match-winner on his day; sadly ‘his day’ only comes around a few times per season. 

Anthony Gordon joined in January and is doing great in the Under 21 Euros but it feels like this is an area to improve. Harvey Barnes could be a target as could Wilfried Zaha on a free transfer for a couple of seasons. 

Fullbacks to fall back on

There can be no doubt that Kieran Trippier and Dan Burn were outstanding last season. However, the cover for them is a distinct downgrade in Matt Targett and Javier Manquillo. Tino Livramento is being linked with a move from Southampton. 

The Chelsea academy product can play on both flanks but he is just making his way back from a long-term injury. Kyle Walker-Peters could be a smart, bargain addition whilst Kieran Tierney was extensively linked on the other flank.

Summary – three or four more to come

It could be a busy few weeks for the Magpies. Expect to see a winger and at least one fullback arrive. A second fullback, another central midfielder and a number ten are other areas to keep an eye on. 

Eddie Howe may also feel he needs a new partner for Sven Botman at centre back. Someone like Marc Guehi from Crystal Palace would be ideal. Exciting times lie ahead of the faithful Toon supporters.

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