The key positions Newcastle United must strengthen this summer - and the realistic signings Steve Bruce could make
Newcastle United are yet to make a breakthrough in this summer's transfer window, despite the endless amount of rumours.
There are key positions Steve Bruce is looking to fill - and we take a look at the players who could do that - most of which have already been linked with the Magpies.
CENTRAL DEFENCE – SCHAR, LEJEUNE, AJER, KABAK & SALIBA
Confirmation is yet to arrive on Federico Fernandez’s future but if he is to stay under contract on Tyneside along with Fabian Schar and Paul Dummett then the centre of defence is generally a well-stocked area.
However, based on last season’s 62 league goals conceded, it’s one that arguably needs reassessing,
And out of those three, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Schar leave.
The Switzerland international could well have departed in January had United secured a loan-to-buy deal for Ozan Kabak – that was done and dusted before Liverpool swooped in.
There are very few supporters who would be open to letting Schar go, and there are perhaps some who believe Florian Lejeune deserves another shot on Tyneside.
Lejeune impressed on loan at La Liga side Alaves and went a long way to proving he was over his two ACL injuries but Bruce wants a new defender and ultimately, the Frenchman is the easiest to sacrifice as he enters the final year on his contract.
Among the club’s targets are reportedly Celtic’s Kristoffer Ajer, Arsenal’s William Saliba – though he looks to be joining Marseille on loan, Wolves’ Dion Sanderson and Tottenham’s Cameron Carter-Vickers.
Ajer is believed to have topped United’s shortlist but Norwich City and Bayern Leverkusen seem to be in the driving seat.
CENTRAL MIDFIELD – WILLOCK DESPERATELY NEEDED
Newcastle must push to sign Willock on a permanent basis this summer but it might not be an easy deal to do, nor is it likely to be finalised straight away either.
Mikel Arteta is expected to give the 21-year-old the chance to impress in pre-season and then make a final judgement, most likely near the end of the transfer window.
If Arteta does indeed decide to sell Willock then United need to stump up the cash.
And, if Bruce’s transfer kitty is as low as rumoured then United simply can’t afford Willock outright, meaning some clever negotiations will need to be had.
Loan now, buy next summer? What is for sure is Newcastle need Willock or someone similar. If a deal is there to be done then find a way to do it.
Without him, the United midfield is one that lacks serious legs, energy, goals and creativity.
STRIKER – STRONG OR STEADY BACK-UP TO WILSON
Callum Wilson is the real deal but his injury record suggests Newcastle will go pockets of the season without him. At the very least, Bruce needs a capable back-up.
Yes, Joelinton showed huge signs of improvement but you still doubt his attributes as an out-and-out number nine.
Dwight Gayle, based on last season, is struggling to cut it at Premier League level while Andy Carroll, whose future is still up in the air, isn’t anywhere near similar to Wilson.
It’d take big money to sign anyone remotely near Wilson’s peak level but bringing former Bournemouth teammate Josh King in as a free agent could be ideal.