Newcastle United have followed a similar trajectory to what they managed when they were relegated last time. Rafa Benitez came in too late to save them from relegation but he had enough time to determine what the squad needed to overcome the rugged nature of the Championship. The last time Newcastle were in the second tier, they immediately mapped their return via a core of English players and it hasn’t been all that different this time either.
While Jamaal Lascelles has been the cornerstone of the defence, the likes of Shelvey and Hayden have impressed in midfield. Dwight Gayle has replicated what a certain Geordie named Andy Carroll managed in the Championship. However, apart from Gayle, none of the strikers have impressed consistently and that’ll be worrying.
Gayle might be thriving in the Championship, but the Premier League is a whole new ball game. The likes of Patrick Bamford, Rudy Gestede, Jordan Rhodes and David Nugent have been prime examples of certain players who can tear apart the second division but struggle in the top tier. Gayle didn’t have the worst of records at Palace, but you can only presume Rafa will add a player who can guarantee them somewhere around the 12 goals.
Can Solanke add more value to the English core?
Newcastle struggled last season as a young and bad tempered Aleksandar Mitrovic found it really hard and Papiss Cisse simply wasn’t good enough. In a bid to add more strength to their team, they have been linked with Dominic Solanke, the Chelsea academy star who has failed to break into the first team despite helping the youth sides win silverware in the last few seasons.
He was sent out on loan to Dutch side Vitesse, and plundered seven goals in 25 games but hasn’t been used by Conte at all. He is still only 19 and has shown tremendous ability, but the form of Costa has been so imperious that he can’t be dropped.
Solanke is a pretty agile striker and has a trick or two up his sleeve to trouble opposition defenders. In the youth levels, he mostly earned plaudits for his composure in front of goal and his goals tally sure backs that notion.
Solanke’s contract expires in the summer and Newcastle will get him for a cheap tribunal fee, but reports indicate they are willing to pay him quite a lot in wages which seems a bit surprising. He doesn’t have top-flight experience, but could be a wildcard signing. If he clicks immediately, it’ll help the team, but if he doesn’t, well he always has time on his side to gain experience on loan moves and develop further until he is ready.