Newcastle United's 'bargain' £45m signing, January transfer ‘plans’ and injury latest - writer Q&A
Newcastle United's key player, potential January transfer plans and season assessed - writer Q&A.
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The third international break of the season comes at an ideal time for Newcastle United as injuries ravage their squad. The Magpies have had to deal with a huge injury crisis of late - one that has seen performances and results dip slightly as they aim to battle a hectic fixture schedule.
Here, in our latest writer Q&A, Joe Buck and Dominic Scurr assess Newcastle’s start to the season, who has impressed for Howe’s side thus far and take a look ahead to the January transfer window:
What do you make of Newcastle United’s start to the season?
JB: Considering the injury troubles they have had to ensure, they have started very well in all competitions. Ahead of the season, if you’d offered fans a Carabao Cup quarter-final, a memorable win against PSG and a 7th place Premier League placing heading into December, I think the majority would have taken that.
Of course a recent blip in the Champions League and a hectic upcoming fixture schedule with a reduced squad will take its toll but, right now, I think they can be content with their start to the season. They do have a massive few weeks to come though which could prove to be a season defining portion of the season.
DS: Despite having a very difficult start and being ravaged by injuries, the bigger picture is The Magpies sit seventh in the table, six points off the top four, eight points off the top of the table and just one point worse off than they were after 12 matches last season.
And it's been a solid start packed with some great results. A 5-1 win against Aston Villa on the opening day, a record 8-0 league away win at Sheffield United not to mention the 4-1 Champions League win over Paris Saint-Germain - arguably one of the greatest nights in recent memory at St James' Park. If you add in the 1-0 wins over Manchester City and Arsenal as well as the 3-0 victory at Old Trafford, this season has already brought many great moments.
There is obvious uncertainty and concern as to how the injuries will impact the squad over the festive period. Given Newcastle's league position and the fact they still have a small chance of progressing out of a Champions League group of death as well as a Carabao Cup quarter-final to look forward to, there is still plenty of potential in the 2023-24 campaign.
What could the January transfer window look like?
JB: If I had answered this question a few months ago, I probably would have said it might be a quiet one with one big addition - a bit like last winter. However, injury problems at all ends of the field mean they will be forced into the market.
A midfielder seems a must with issues up-front and at centre-back also needing to be addressed. Players like Ruben Neves and Gabri Veiga have been mooted as potential options, however, these will depend on the outcome of the vote by Premier League teams on Tuesday. They could do a lot worse than adding Kalvin Phillips though in my opinion.
DS: Sandro Tonali's suspension stresses the need for midfield reinforcements this January, whether that be on loan or permanently. Kalvin Phillips is a genuine option given he is out of favour at Manchester City and keen to keep his place in the England squad for the upcoming European Championships next summer.
Newcastle are still yet to replace Chris Wood as a third-choice striker. Something that wasn't a huge necessity at the start of the season with Alexander Isak and Callum Wilson both fit and fighting for one place, but now injuries have started to take their toll, the need for a natural frontman grows.
A centre-back is another area Newcastle may look to strengthen, particularly given the uncertainty surrounding Sven Botman's injury. Looking at the bigger picture, other than Botman, all of Newcastle's natural centre-back options are above the age of 30 and Eddie Howe will need to address his ageing back-line at some stage.
Who have you been impressed by this season?
JB: Anthony Gordon has been the standout player so far for me. The improvement he has made in all aspects of his game from last season has been sensational and the player he is now is a world away from the one we saw at the beginning of the year.
Gordon should have been called up to Gareth Southgate’s England squad - although having him resting for two weeks isn’t the worst outcome for Newcastle and Howe. If not Gordon, then Kieran Trippier and Fabian Schar’s performances must get a mention. Both have been brilliant yet again and are the bedrock of everything good the Magpies do.
Sean Longstaff also deserves tremendous credit for his performances in recent times. He may not have started the season in the first-team, but he has been brilliant recently and is now an indispensable member of the starting lineup.
DS: Anthony Gordon is the obvious choice here as he looks like a new signing compared to the player we saw in the second half of last season. His work rate, pace, tenacity and ability to create and score goals this season have made him one of the most exciting players to watch in the Premier League.
At just 22, that £45million paid to Everton is starting to look like a bit of a bargain.
But the most consistent performer throughout the season, as he was last season, is Fabian Schar. The Swiss centre-back has played every minute in the Premier League and Champions League this season and is as much a creative influence as he is a defensive one.
Even in the matches where Newcastle have struggled, Schar has often been a standout performer. He's 32 next month and out of contract at the end of the season - get that new contract out!