Newcastle United are undergoing rapid changes on and off the field. The Public Investment Fund bought Newcastle for a fee of $409 million & since their acquisition, the club has managed to make progress in the right direction. But what can they do to make them a European contender?
When PIF appointed Eddie Howe they had twin objectives:
a) To sign players who will improve the current side.
b) And to develop the club’s current status.
a) To keep improving season after season to enter the European competitions and eventually lift the English Premier League.
We can say that they are on the right track in terms of short-term goals where players like Bruno Guimarães, Dan Burn, Kieran Trippier & Matt Targett all have come into the side through the January transfer window and helped Newcastle finish to respectable 11th place finish.
Also signing one of Europe’s most promising young centre-back Sven Botman and a solid Premier League goalkeeper like Nick Pope this summer, the PIF continue to work towards achieving their long-term goals. But are these players enough to secure them a European berth? Probably not.
So here are two transfers that Newcastle United should look to make in order to challenge for a European spot:
THILO KEHRER – RIGHT SIDED CENTRE-BACK
Newcastle have significantly improved defensively since Eddie Howe took over in November. The side under Steve Bruce shipped goals at a rate of 2.6 goals compared to Howe’s 2 goals per match. A big improvement but this can also further be improved. West Ham United finished in the European places by letting in 50 goals last year which means the Magpies need further in defence and just to that Thilo Kehrer is the first pick to do so.
Sven Botman acquisition means that Newcastle United have a player who understands and reads the dynamics of a football game very quickly but also he is not really very quick due to his enormous stature. Also, Howe has deployed a very deep block and uses counterattacks as a means to convert defences to offences. Dan Burn no doubt has improved this side very much but Thilo Kehrer in our opinion will further improve the Toons. A right-sided centre-back will be perfect to complement Dan Burn’s or Botman’s left-footedness.
Thilo ticks the boxes of a solid defensive and is more technical than Dan Burn and Jamaal Lascelles. A German International who has played 20 times for his country and a player who started in UEFA Champions League 2020 final against Bayern Munich, Kehrer is recognized across European football. It is also convenient that his contract expires next summer and is valued at £19.80m by Transfermarkt.
Kehrer can play both the right-sided centre-back and a right-back. An excellent passer of the ball, Kehrer ranks in the 99th percentile of all centre-backs in Europe for passes completed. He also loves to join his side in attack, taking 1.15 touches in the penalty box also receiving 1.42 progressive passes per match & carrying the ball nearly 4 times per 90.
He is not the most aerially dominant lying in the bottom 20 percentile for aerial wins but that won’t be a problem if plays alongside Burn or Botman.
MOUSSA DIABY – RIGHT WING
Right-wing is probably the most important position where Newcastle need to upgrade. Their left side is carried by Allan Saint-Maximin who has had a really good time since arriving in Newcastle but the right side does not offer the same amount of threat. Ryan Frasier and Miguel Almiron have played a big chunk of minutes there and are good squad members but both of them are not good enough to start. Between the two of them, they have contributed 3 goals and 3 assists which is a bad return for a side which needs goals.
So, Moussa Diaby is one player that Newcastle should target this summer. Diaby, now 23 years old, has improved season after season since his arrival in Leverkusen in 2019. Last season he was one of the best players in the Bundesliga scoring 13 and assisting a further 12 goals. The now French international was also amazing in the UEFA Europa League scoring 4 goals and providing 2 assists in just 600 minutes of action. Contrary to Saint-Maximin he is more of a creative player than a dynamic one. He is a better passer of the ball and has more end product compared to his French compatriot.
He is also comfortable playing on any side of midfield and also plays as a central midfielder. A player who is young, hungry and already has experience of playing in the European stages, Diaby is a player ready to play in the Premier League.
Moussa still has a contract until 2025 and Transfermarkt values him at £54m but with the spending power of the PIF that should not be a very big problem.