The Hard Tackle takes a look at five players Newcastle United must offload come summer as Eddie Howe continues his squad transformation to compete with the establishment.
Top-four hopefuls Newcastle United finally ended their recent rot with a confidence-boosting 2-1 home victory against Wolves over the weekend in a game that provided glimpses of the future.
Indeed, this is the first time ever that their three marquee signings — Sven Botman, Bruno Guimaraes, and Alexander Isak — started a Premier League game together. While the trio might not have featured in the same starting XI until last Sunday, Newcastle fans have long been using chants. The lyrics go: “We’ve got Bruno in the middle, He knows exactly what we need, Botman at the back, Isak in attack, Newcastle’s gonna win the Premier League!”
One can only wonder that Botman, Guimaraes, and Isak are some exciting core players for this new Newcastle United and will be the pillars of Eddie Howe’s major squad rebuild as they look to take the next step and challenge the establishment for major honours in the near future.
The Magpies will be disappointed to miss out on silverware as they were beaten 2-0 by Manchester United in the EFL Cup final. But they will be proud of the meteoric transformation they have made under Eddie Howe.
Newcastle United have been converted from a relegation-threatened team to one that now hopes to qualify for the Champions League. Because of the rapid shift in standards and the new signings, certain Newcastle players of the old guard have fallen down the pecking order.
Likewise, Newcastle are expected to keep adding quality to their ranks in order to make up for the gap in squad quality when compared to elite teams. The Magpies desperately need to ship some players out as they have a lot of unwanted fat that needs to be trimmed first due to their inflated squad. Many players are surplus to requirements and should be off the books permanently in the summer.
So, with that in mind, The Hard Tackle has taken a look at five players Newcastle must offload at the end of the season to lighten their wage bill, make room for potential new arrivals, and generate some vital funds to further boost Eddie Howe’s summer transfer war chest.
Since arriving at St. James’ Park from Atletico Madrid in the summer of 2017, Manquillo has racked up over 100 competitive outings for the club, contributing one goal and seven assists. But he has found game time hard to come by this season, receiving just 166 minutes of action across all competitions.
While it took him time to prove his worth, Manquillo has turned out to be a decent player for Newcastle. He has acted as a dependable full-back on either side of the pitch, whether it was a back four or a back five, under previous boss Steve Bruce.
However, his influence has waned since 2022, largely down to injuries and the performances of others. Kieran Trippier arrived in January and has been in fine form ever since. So much so that he has been the stand-in skipper with club captain Jamaal Lascelles rarely seeing any game time these days.
In Trippier’s absence, Emil Krafth was utilised at right-back last season and was simply sensational towards the end of last season, earning the nickname “Krafu” from Newcastle fans for his displays. As a result, Manquillo has found himself far down the pecking order at Newcastle. What’s more, the Magpies have just signed promising youngster Harrison Ashby from West Ham United in that position.
That leaves Manquillo’s position at St. James’ Park in jeopardy as the fourth-choice right-back when everyone’s fit. And he is potentially even further down the pecking order on the left too, where Newcastle are eyeing another reinforcement in the summer.
It feels like Rafael Benitez’s signing is no longer required on Tyneside. And although Manquillo is under contract until June 2024, with his minutes set to be limited going forward, the upcoming summer could be a good time for Newcastle and Manquillo to part ways. But the Toon may have to release him to facilitate a move elsewhere.
Lascelles has been on the books of Newcastle since 2014 and has a contract with the Magpies until the summer of 2024. Newcastle seemingly do not want to lose him for free in 2024, which could open the doors for an exit in the forthcoming off-season.
He established himself as a mainstay at the club in recent years, with more than 200 appearances for Newcastle to his name. He was a key player in Rafael Benitez’s side as they gained promotion back to the Premier League in 2017. And he helped keep things together during the turbulent times under Steve Bruce.
The Newcastle United captain has been a great leader throughout the years, keeping everyone on their toes and never shying away from fan criticism when he was unjustly scapegoated for the malfunctioning at the club.
Of course, that leadership, battle-hardened mindset, and sheer degree of commitment to the cause have come at a cost, with the former Nottingham Forest prodigy unable to develop his game due to the constant upheaval and panic around the club.
He always had some admirable defensive qualities like aerial dominance, athleticism, robustness, and getting the gritty stuff done. However, it is the ball-playing and passing side of things where he’s generally limited.
He might have been a fringe figure on the pitch this season. But Lascelles remains a hugely influential figure within the Magpies’ dressing room and has still been praised for his role off the pitch. However, that might not be enough to keep him at the club. With Newcastle expected to bring in another defender once the transfer window reopens in the summer, that is likely to be the end of the road for Lascelles at St. James’ Park.
The 29-year-old will not be short of suitors this summer, though, with his former club, Nottingham Forest, likely to be among those interested in obtaining his services if they remain in the Premier League. Wolves are also regarded as likely potential suitors. In fact, Forest wanted to sign him in January. Yet Howe intervened, as he did not plan on losing his captain in the mid-season market as he considers him to be a valuable squad player.
The Magpies’ boss still admires what he can offer in terms of depth, which he showcased in his recent appearance against Manchester City as the brick wall defender successfully manhandled Erling Haaland throughout the 2-0 defeat. Yet with Newcastle now advancing rapidly and Lascelles falling down the pecking order, it is almost certain that he will be sold by the club.
Ben Dawson on Ryan Fraser training and playing with the U21 team:
"It's nothing different to what's probably happened year upon year. The manager has given the reasons why Ryan is here.
Ryan has been with us and he's trained, he's been great around the young lads and he's done… https://t.co/nztGqk3LdU pic.twitter.com/Ihi2H7eUSc
— Magpie 24/7 (@Magpie24_7) March 8, 2023
One player Newcastle must desperately get rid of this summer is rebel diminutive winger Ryan Fraser. His Toon career recently hit rock bottom as the 29-year-old has now been banished from the first-team squad and forced to train with the under-21s by Howe due to his poor attitude in training.
There will likely be a sense of Deja vu among Bournemouth fans who are seeing things unfold the way it has for Fraser in the northeast. The Scotland international had had a tumultuous and somewhat poisonous end to his tenure on the south coast, having decided against putting pen to paper on a short-term contract extension required to keep playing in the COVID-impacted 2019/20 campaign.
Fraser was more concerned to save his legs ahead of a Bosman move elsewhere than helping the club, which gave him a career steer clear of relegation from the top flight. Howe, who was in charge of the Cherries at the time, decided not to call upon the speedster for the rest of that season despite the injury crisis.
That despicable exit undoubtedly left a bad taste in the mouth of Bournemouth fans, with Fraser having since been hit with a dose of karma after struggling to find his footing at St. James’ Park. He has scored just three goals and providing only six assists in 59 games across all competitions since arriving from Bournemouth on a free transfer back in the summer of 2020.
Fraser has featured in eight Premier League games this season, starting three of them, collecting just 313 minutes of football action. He has not featured in a match since last October 19th, in the 1-0 victory against Everton, when he was introduced as a substitute off the bench.
A summer exit now looks like an inevitability, bringing to an end a rather failed deal for all parties concerned. Recent reports have suggested that a host of bottom-half Premier League clubs have expressed their interest in his services come summer.
Ritchie is currently in his seventh season as a Newcastle player. And for the vast majority of that time, he has been an integral part of the Magpies’ first-choice side. The 33-year-old, who has played under Howe at both Bournemouth and Newcastle, has racked up 195 appearances for the Magpies since arriving in 2016 from the south coast, scoring 24 goals and providing 33 assists in the process.
The former Scotland international has been a loyal servant to Newcastle, helping them win promotion back to the Premier League in 16/17. And Howe has previously gone on record to say that the player has been a leading voice inside the dressing room.
He has found game time much harder to come by in the last couple of years, though, and has managed just four top-flight substitute appearances in the whole of the current Premier League campaign, with Anthony Gordon, Allan Saint-Maximin, and Miguel Almiron all ahead of him in the pecking order.
A pure grafter with great passion, leadership skills, and attitude, his versatility and ability to play as a full-back, wing-back, or midfielder have meant he has remained a valuable squad member. But with his contract expiring in the summer, it is clear that Ritchie’s time on Tyneside is coming to a close. And it now looks like he may be moved on as the new owners continues to set out their plan for the future. Ritchie still has a lot to offer and has the qualities that would make the attacker one of the best wide players in the lower tiers of English football.
From one Eddie Howe favourite to another. Apologies, Eddie, this squad surgery is going to be a painful one as he needs to part company with almost all of his old Bournemouth band. The inclusion of Callum Wilson on the list ahead of the likes of Jamal Lewis, Lloris Karius, and Jacob Murphy may seem a bit harsh to some after everything he has done for Newcastle United over the years.
After all, the 31-year-old has been a key player for the club since joining them from Bournemouth for £20 million. And he has proved to be a shrewd acquisition, chipping in with important goals in their battle to stay afloat in the English top-flight.
To his credit, Wilson has done reasonably well this season, with seven goals to his name in the Premier League this season. But he is struggling for goals lately — not a thing one may associate with an established marksman like Wilson at first glance. And his injury record has always been a source of concern.
The Englishman is also a traditional marksman who does not offer a lot much aside from goals in terms of dynamism, versatility, and ability in tight areas to work the channels or to bring wide players and attacking midfielders into the game.
He is aging, limited with his general play, leaving a lot to be desired, and could not hit a barn door with a banjo lately. Simply put, he is very upgradeable with a young, hungry, and more dynamic forward. With the club now determined to recruit some world-class talent over the coming months, they would do well to recruit a top-level striker to compete with or complement Isak.
Moreover, Newcastle United will need some money from sales to fund their spending spree as well as balance their books. And Wilson is one of the very few players from the old guard who still has some reasonable sell-on value left in his profile if Newcastle are to sell him next summer.
Allan Saint-Maximin is another. But finding an exceptional dribbler with his traits is not cheap. And the disruption his directness and maverick runs can cause against opposing defenses make him a very useful asset, even off the bench going forward in case the Newcastle United squad does outgrow him in the near future. So Wilson is more disposable but still commands decent value.
Recent transfers of Danny Ings from Aston Villa to West Ham United and Chris Wood from Newcastle United to Nottingham Forest, both for over £15 million, demonstrate that there is still a market for experienced marksmen in the Premier League, with relegation-threatened and newly-promoted clubs always desperate for proven top-flight poachers.
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