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Graham Ruthven: Five realistic summer targets for Newcastle to crack on

May 3, 2022

This summer is predicted to be a big one for Newcastle United as they continue to build a team capable of challenging higher up the Premier League table. Last year’s Saudi Arabia-backed takeover has raised expectations at St James’ Park with the Magpies’ new ownership intent on challenging for the title within the next five years.

Close to £100m was spent on new signings in January and more additions will be made in the summer transfer window. However, the cases of Everton and Manchester United prove just how easy it is to waste money in the transfer market. Newcastle United must spend smartly. Here are five realistic players they could target.

Yves Bissouma (Brighton)

The January addition of Bruno Guimaraes lifted the level of Newcastle United’s midfield and the capture of Yves Bissouma this summer would lift it even further. The 25-year-old has been a key figure for Brighton over the last four seasons and now appears ready to make the step up with Liverpool previously mentioned as admirers.

Dan Ashworth’s arrival at St James’ Park this summer could give Newcastle an edge in the pursuit of Bissouma with the club’s new sporting director poached from Brighton. Bissouma would give Newcastle drive and energy through the centre of the pitch. He would certainly be an upgrade on Jonjo Shelvey in central midfield.

Sven Botman (Lille)

Howe prioritised defensive additions in January and Sven Botman was a target Newcastle United spent weeks pursuing. Dan Burn and Kieran Trippier arrived to strengthen the Magpies’ backline, but a higher calibre of defender will be required to take the next step. Botman would certainly fit the bill in that regard.

Botman isn’t just a physical presence. Indeed, the 22-year-old is extremely comfortable on the ball and is capable of playing out from the back. Botman is averaging 61.4 passes per 90 minutes this season as well as 4.1 long passes 90 minutes. Newcastle United would be a better team for having the Dutchman’s ability to find attackers high up the pitch with a single ball.

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Jesse Lingard (Manchester United)

Jesse Lingard has been the subject of much speculation since last summer when it was widely expected that he would leave Manchester United on a permanent basis after a successful loan spell at West Ham. Newcastle United were linked with the 29-year-old in January and could register their interest again once his contract at Old Trafford expires this summer.

Lingard would offer creativity and goal threat from midfield. At 29, he is also at peak physical fitness and could permit Howe to play a proactive game out of possession. Lingard needs regular game time ahead of the 2022 World Cup and would find that at St James’ Park where Howe would surely see him as a key figure.

Darwin Nunez (Benfica)

Newcastle United would face a lot of competition for Darwin Nunez’s signature, but the Uruguayan’s arrival in the North East would make a statement about the direction of the club. Nunez is widely viewed as one of the best young strikers in the sport right now having scored 32 times in all competitions for Benfica this season.

Nunez would give Newcastle a player to build their attack around. The Uruguayan plays a lot like Erling Haaland in the way he is most dangerous when he has space to gallop into. Nunez has a high ceiling and has still to reach his full potential. Newcastle United could sell him on being the face of the club for a number of years to come.

Ismaila Sarr (Watford)

Watford look all but certain to be a Championship club next season with Roy Hodgson’s team 12 points from safety in 19th place. Ismaila Sarr, however, could stay in the Premier League should he secure a transfer away from Vicarage Road this summer. The Senegalese winger certainly has the ability to play at the top level.

While Newcastle have Allan Saint-Maximin off the left wing, they are lighter on quality on the opposite wing. Ryan Fraser is a decent option, but the Scot doesn’t possess the explosive pass of Sarr. Watford’s relegation to the Championship could present Newcastle with a chance to pick off one of their best players for a knock-down price.