Ritchie, Gayle, Woodman, Longstaff, Anderson, – the FIVE key decisions that could shape Newcastle United's summer

Let’s not let Newcastle United’s end to the 2020/21 Premier League season paper over the cracks.

Tuesday, 8th June 2021, 12:30 pm
Updated Tuesday, 8th June 2021, 12:34 pm

For every positive show at the end of the campaign there were two or three totally abject ones further back in the calendar – and it is for that reason, United’s summer, with or without a takeover, is a crucial one.

Some big decisions need making on Tyneside in relation to the playing staff. Here’s FIVE of the key ones on Steve Bruce’s agenda.

Woodman – loan, keep or sell?

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Steve Bruce, Manager of Newcastle United applauds fans after the Premier League match between Newcastle United and Sheffield United at St. James Park on May 19, 2021 in Newcastle upon Tyne, England.

Newcastle United are stocked with goalkeepers, good quality ones at that.

But, as glaringly obvious as this is, only one can play – and that makes for some unhappy keepers on the fringes.

Freddie Woodman’s education would likely be best served elsewhere for another season, but maybe a Premier League loan is required for the former England youth international after a number of impressive ones in the second tier.

Selling would boost coffers. Keeping him would strengthen the squad but maybe to the detriment of the player. So loaning him out would likely be the favoured option.

Longstaff decision time

Last season was a wasted one for Matty Longstaff. Newcastle and the player can’t allow the same to happen again in 2021/22.

Despite signing a short-term extension only last summer, Longstaff has just one year left on his current deal – and Bruce must decide whether he is a player he wants around the place, can send him out on loan for gametime, or even sell him now to boost the coffers slightly.

Anderson integration

Teenager Anderson is the most impressive academy graduate Newcastle have produced for some time – and by all accounts, he’s not a million miles away from knocking on the first-team door.

What United need to do is learn their lesson from Matty Longstaff’s stagnation last season and either keep Anderson around to play and come off the bench, if they feel he’s ready, or send him out on loan to learn the men’s game. Under-23s football is no place for a lad of this talent.

Ritchie departure?

Will he be allowed to leave and, if so, will he be replaced?

Matt Ritchie was a key component in Newcastle United’s rise away from relegation flirtations at the end of last season. His competitive energy gave United the kick up the backside they so desperately needed. His experience must also not be forgotten.

He was keen to leave in January, and would likely still like to do so – but can United afford to lose him?

This is one of the biggest calls Bruce will have to make all summer. I’m sure he’d want to keep him in an ideal world, but I’m not sure Ritchie will be happy to play second fiddle any more.

Jetro Willems is a ready-made left wing-back replacement.

Gayle – in or out?

Up top Newcastle United could maybe do with a little strengthening. They have Callum Wilson and Allan Saint-Maximin as their first choice two, with Ryan Fraser and Joelinton as back up, but where does Dwight Gayle fit in?

Bruce could look to cash in on the player, set to sign a new deal, in order to free up funds for a reboot elsewhere.

In truth, they wouldn’t miss Gayle, taking last season as an example.

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