Newcastle United transfer Q&A: How many players will Steve Bruce sign and will Joe Willock be one of them?
There’s just over a fortnight until Newcastle United kick-off their Premier League campaign at home to West Ham United – yet there are still no signings to report.
Indeed, the Magpies remain the only club in the top-flight not to secure a new arrival as supporters begin to worry about what’s to come.
Here, our Shields Gazette writers Miles Starforth and Jordan Cronin take a look at the last seven days – giving their thoughts on potential transfer activity and anti-chanting at Steve Bruce
Steve Bruce has been open and honest about the “difficult” challenge the club faces in the transfer market this summer. How many players can you see the club signing this summer?
MS: “I felt at the start of the summer that the club needed at least four new signings this summer if the club is to progress at all. However, I fear that the club’s very limited transfer budget will in turn limit the business done in this window.”
JC: “I had hoped for at least three at the beginning the window – a central defender, a midfielder and a striker but Bruce believes the latter has “adequate cover”. Newcastle have two domestic loan slots and I think they’ll fill those. However, time will tell who with.”
Which players do you believe will leave Newcastle United this summer?
MS: “Yoshinori Muto, for one, though United will find it hard to sell the forward. The club may have to loan him out in the final year of his deal, and subsidise some of his wages. Otherwise, there’s still a question mark over Matt Ritchie’s future. A loan for Matty Longstaff has also been mooted, though Bruce is short in midfield.”
JC: “I expect Muto to leave but terms won’t work out completely in United’s favour i.e paying a percentage of his weekly wage. As well as Ritchie and Matty Longstaff, Freddie Woodman is one to watch but that’s all dependent on Martin Dubravka and Karl Darlow’s progress.”
What have you made of the reports linking Newcastle United to a move for Manchester United defender Axel Tuanzebe?
MS: “This would make sense. Bruce, we know, wants to sign another defender, and he signed Tuanzebe during his time at Aston Villa."
JC: “It’d be a solid addition. Tuanzebe has appeared sporadically for Manchester United in the Premier League, Champions League and Europa League. At 23, he still has plenty of room to develop and a consistent run of games is his best chance of doing that.”
Do you believe Joe Willock will return to Newcastle United this summer?
MS: “Up to now I've been fairly optimistic about the chances of Willock returning to the club, but Bruce has recently spoken about a “cut-off” point. Ideally, he needs a decision soon from Arsenal. Willock, of course, will have the final say on his destination if he is allowed to leave this summer, and you'd hope he'd feel the pull of a return to St James's Park. Newcastle, sensibly, are also looking at other options while they wait for a decision.”
JC: “I still believe there’s a good chance Willock will end back up at Newcastle. I’ve said previously this is a transfer saga that will be decided later on in the transfer window. Bruce spoke about a “cut-off” point but if the Magpies receive encouraging noises from Arsenal, I’m sure Bruce and co will stick around a little while longer. There are no better loan options out there.”
What are your thoughts on fans’ anti-Steve Bruce chants which were first heard at Rotherham on Tuesday?
MS: “There’s a lot of takeover and transfer frustration among supporters right now, and it wasn’t a big surprise to see fans round on the Premier League and Mike Ashley at Rotherham. As for the Bruce chants, there were boos aimed at him after the final home game of last season, so these chants won’t have surprised many on Tyneside. Bruce, unquestionably, is under pressure before a ball is kicked, and the return of fans this season does change the dynamic for him.”
JC: “Bruce lost a large section of the fanbase last year and I’m not sure how that relationship can be repaired. A couple of bad results and supporters are ready to turn. I don’t think it’s unfair to say an empty St James’s Park saved Bruce last season. This time around, there’s nowhere to hide – and that puts Bruce in an impossible position.”