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Manager: Rafael Benitez
Squad value: £119 million
Key players: Jonjo Shelvey, Ayoze Perez, Dwight Gayle
Newcastle bounced right back to the Premier League after spending a season in England’s second division.
At the start of last season, former Champions League winner, Rafael Benitez, promised to get the Magpies promoted. They ended up stealing the Championship from Brighton at the death.
In the upcoming season, they will look and hope to do more than just survive in the Premier League.
Additions and losses
The Magpies were one of the more talented groups in the Championship, but against Premier League opposition, they have suddenly become minnows in a much larger pond.
Benitez added Christian Atsu from Chelsea, Jacob Murphy from Norwich, Florian Lejeune from Eibar, Javier Manquillo from Atletico Madrid, and Mikel Merino from Borussia Dortmund (on loan) to help bring in some quality, depth, and skill to a squad that already somewhat has it. It would not hurt to bring in another striker and goalkeeper.
When it came to losses, the Magpies sold Florian Thauvin to Marseille, and Vurnon Anita and Yoan Gouffran left on a free transfer. These changes won’t break the season, but the point is, they still need to bring in Premier League quality replacements.
World-beaters in the Championship, but in the Premier League?
Dwight Gayle and Ciaran Clark were arguably their best players last season. But that was in the Championship.
What is worrying and raises uncertainty for Benitez is their lackluster performances when they were playing in the Premier League in seasons past.
Good news for Benitez, he does not have to worry about Jonjo Shelvey and Matt Ritchie because they have played well in the Premier League.
They possess the tools necessary to stay up
Although there are questions surrounding the quality of the squad, the Magpies do have the tools to be dangerous going forward with Atsu, Ritchie, Murphy, Perez, and Gayle. Again, it’s a question of what type of player shows up and if they can finish.
In the defense, Ciaran Clark, Jamaal Lascelles, and Chancel Mbemba were solid centerbacks last season— the addition of Lejeune will help bolster the backline. DeAndre Yedlin started to show his potential as a fullback, and it will be interesting who Benitez plays, Paul Dummett or Yedlin, or both?
In the middle, Jonjo Shelvey and Mohamed Diame will command the spotlight. All these players have the Premier League know how and the talent, they now need to go out and prove it.
Too many questions and not enough answers
Newcastle have too many questions and not enough answers at the moment. Lucky for them, the transfer window is still open.
If it all clicks, they will not have to worry about being in a relegation battle. Rafael Benitez promised to bring Newcastle right back up when he was appointed, but what promises has he made this season?
Written by Steven Jotterand
Follow Steven on Twitter @StevenJotterand
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