COMMENT by Russell Edge
Newcastle’s return to the Premier League means it is set to be another busy summer for boss Rafael Benitez, as he prepares his side for life back in the top flight.
The Magpies earned their promotion from the Championship with a convincing 4-1 victory over Preston, and Benitez’s side still have a slim chance of overtaking frontrunners Brighton and securing the league title.
However, it is unlikely to be a priority to the Newcastle hierarchy, or indeed boss Benitez, with preparations for Premier League survival the focus from now until the end of next season.
This means fans should expect a busy summer on Tyneside with several incomings at St James’ Park, as the club look to improve their squad ahead of the return of top -light football.
However, while the priority will be on recruiting new talent, a number of players should be concerned for their futures at the club, with Benitez likely to get rid of players he deems surplus to requirements, as well as to raise funds for further investment.
Here are three players Benitez should look at selling over the summer – players out of contract, such as Yoan Gouffran and Vurnon Anita, or players on loan, like Christian Atsu, are not considered:
It is a case of job done for the big Irish striker.
Brought into the club to provide some much-needed Championship experience, the 34-year-old performed admirably, scoring five league goals on the way to promotion.
With Rafa Benitez likely to be looking for a new addition to his frontline, and with game time likely to be limited for the former Ipswich man were he to remain, he should depart in search of first-team football as he reaches the end of his career.
He will be remembered fondly on Tyneside, that much is certain.
Newcastle are lucky to have such an abundance of quality between the sticks, although only one man can appear at a time.
Benitez has called upon three men during the Championship campaign this season, Karl Darlow, Irish international Rob Elliot and Belgian international Matz Sels.
However, the Spanish boss will also welcome back Dutch international Tim Krul and England U-21 goalkeeper Freddie Woodman after loan stints at AZ Alkmaar and Kilmarnock respectively.
As such, Benitez has five pegs for one goalkeeper shaped hole, and as such departures should be expected.
Woodman, highly rated by the Newcastle staff, will likely leave on loan to gain more first team experience, and it is Sels who should be sold to bring Benitez’s options down to three.
The former KAA Gent man was dropped after a disappointing start to the season, and with Krul, Darlow and Elliot all possessing Premier League experience, the Belgian could raise some much-needed funds.
Diame was considered a bit of a coup when the Magpies brought him in from Premier League side Hull, but the move has failed to transpire in the way which Rafa Benitez would have hoped.
The Senegal midfielder has scored just three goals in 35 appearances, and has spent much of the season fighting for a place in the side with Ayoze Perez.
There are likely to be several clubs circling for the 29-year-old, and with Championship pedigree, Benitez ought to be able to secure a top price for him.
Benitez will be welcoming attacking midfielder Siem De Jong back to St James’ Park after a loan spell at PSV Einhoven, and it seems Diame may struggle to find game time with further additions likely.
In other Newcastle transfer news, Micky Gray has urged the club to try and sign a proven Premier League goalscorer.