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Newcastle United are back in the Premier League!
After having pipped fellow promotion winners Brighton & Hove Albion to the EFL Championship title last season under the able leadership of Rafael Benitez, the Magpies returned to the top flight at the first time of calling. And they seem the best-placed out of the three promoted clubs, to survive the drop back to the second tier.
However, there have been frustrations growing within the club due to their inability to get deals done for their prime transfer targets, so far. There is a general feeling that the board hasn’t backed Rafa in the market to an extent that he wanted and needed, in order to ascertain their Premier League stay for the coming years.
Newcastle have brought in Christian Atsu on a permanent deal from Chelsea, after the winger impressed on loan last season in the Championship. Centre-back Florian Lejeune arrived from Spanish side Eibar and is expected to challenge Jamaal Lascelles and Ciaran Clark for the starting role.
There was a brief period of inactivity post Lejeune’s arrival, but the club then signed three players in quick succession with Javier Manquillo joining from Atletico Madrid, Jacob Murphy from Norwich City and Mikel Merino on loan from Borussia Dortmund.
The club are chasing a new striker and a goalkeeper yet and are expected to bring more new faces into the team before the deadline day.
The most high-profile exit from the club so far has been winger Florian Thauvin, who joined French club Marseille after spending last season on loan there. Veteran striker Daryl Murphy moved back to the Championship with Nottingham Forest signing him.
Sammy Ameobi, Haris Vuckic, Yoan Gouffran and Vurnon Anita have left the club for free so far. More exits are likely, with the likes of Achraf Lazaar, Massadio Haidara etc., all unwanted and likely to be offloaded.
The best scenario that could come out for Newcastle this season could be that they strengthen their ranks significantly within the next couple of weeks and return to their former status of perennial upper-half finishers in the Premier League. In Benitez, they have a manager who can lead them to such a finish, but there is work needed to be done.
The worst scenario would be that Benitez decides to abandon the ship after not being backed to the hilt by the club with the Magpies facing the prospect of dropping back to the second tier once again.
Their best line-up with the current squad would somewhat look like this:
Rob Elliot, Javier Manquillo, Florian Lejeune, Ciaran Clark, Paul Dummett; Jonjo Shelvey, Mikel Merino; Matt Ritchie, Ayoze Perez, Jacob Murphy; Dwight Gayle.
Jonjo Shelvey has to be the club’s MVP. The English midfielder is keen on reclaiming his place in the England national team and will be extra motivated in order to find a place on the traveling party to Russia next year.