When Rafa recently admitted on live TV that he was unhappy with Newcastle’s summer transfer business, it felt like a punch in the gut. Most Newcastle fans were sceptical about the rumours we had a £70-100 million war chest (or 0.50 of a Neymar). Still, the last hopes for a record-breaking signing at the end of the window felt well and truly crushed. Loan deals however, are a different story.
In hindsight, we should have all seen this coming. After missing out on the substantial increase in prize money from the new Premier League TV deal, we were always going to be at the mercy of being left behind by an increasingly crazy transfer market.
To compound matters further, we have the infuriating Mike Ashley as an owner. While his publicly stated policy of giving Rafa “every penny the club generates” sounds great on the back pages of the Chronicle, like everything else linked with the Sports Direct owner, it comes with a caveat.
Since buying the club, Ashley has been unwilling to any spend money that isn’t in the club’s bank account. Leaving Rafa unable to spend any of the future instalments from the Sissoko transfer or Premier League TV money until the funds have been deposited.
It’s an infuriating policy that, as Lee Ryder confirmed on Twitter, leaves Benitez looking to the loan market to find a striker or two to provide competition for Gayle and Mitrovic. With that in mind, here are four on-loan forwards that Benitez may to turn to boost the squad’s firepower.
Whether in part to put pressure on Charnley, or to hurry up negotiations on another deal, Rafa took the unusual step of admitting interest in the Arsenal forward last week. Having struggled for playing time at the Emirates, the Spanish forward is seeking another move. A versatile signing, Perez can also play as comfortably on either wing, as a no.10 and has enough pace to replace Gayle upfront. Add to the fact that he’s contributed either a goal or an assist every 105 mins since the start of the 15/16 season and it’s easy to see why Benitez is so interested in the versatile forward.
Although there are signs that he may be part of the first team squad at the Italian giants, if Carlos Bacca isn’t involved in the post Neymar transfer merry-go-round, then Niang could well find himself struggling for game time. Having impressed on the wings at Watford loan last season, the athletic 22-year-old French forward could be available in the final few days of the window.
Shinji Okazaki / Islam Slimani / Leonardo Ulloa
Technically there are three players in one section here. Whomever Kelechi Iheanacho ousts from the Leicester squad is going to see their playing time significantly reduced, and be available before the window closes. Of the three, target man Slimani feels like the most likely to kick-up a fuss at not being involved. After scoring 7 goals in 23 starts following his £29m move from Sporting, the 29 year-old will feel he’s wasting his prime years in the reserves. In Benitez’s hands, he’s most definitely an upgrade on what Mitrovic has to offer.
After a season on the fringes of the first-team, Schürrle is a wide player/makeshift forward who should be on a lot of clubs radar this summer and whether Newcastle can get among that fight is one to debate. However, with the 2018 World Cup looming, guaranteed playing time could help lure the former Chelsea player and German international to St. James Park. It’s another potential move that’s going to be affected by the fall-out of Neymar’s record breaking transfer. With Dembele fined and suspended by Dortmund for not training, it feels like a move to Barcelona is inevitable for the young French forward and Schürrle represents a more than adequate stopgap.
Which targets do you think is realistic for NUFC and Rafa to take on?