Newcastle United Must Invest in Attacking Reinforcements if They're to Survive in the Top Flight
Rafa Benitez's newly promoted Newcastle side succumbed to defeat against FSV Mainz 05 on Saturday, after a promising unbeaten run in their previous pre-season games. Newcastle were beaten 2-1 by the Bundesliga side, and the Toon performance exposed flaws in Benitez's transfer strategy with the Spaniard failing to bring in enough offensive reinforcements.
Benitez has so far decided to rebuild his defence in preparation for his return to the top flight, and has failed to bring in much in the way of fresh attacking talent. While the former Liverpool manager's signings have generally been good, the team's loss at Mainz will serve as a warning that he may not want to rely on his current strikers alone.
In a transfer window where the talented former Norwich City attacker Jacob Murphy represents the most offensive player brought in, the club appear to be confident enough with the experienced offensive players they already have.
Aleksandar Mitrovic, Siem de Jong, Jack Colback, Mo Diame and Matt Ritchie all featured against Mainz, and all have also featured at some stage in the top flight. The club also have a host of other talented forward-thinking players, formerly of the Premier League, that include the prolific Dwight Gayle.
Gayle managed to score 23 goals in 32 league appearances in the Sky Bet Championship last season, with Ritchie and Ayoze Pérez also boasting impressive stats.
However, the worry with Benitez's current squad is their ability to recapture the form they exhibited last season against much tougher opponents in the Premier League. Crystal Palace fans will agree that Gayle was never the exciting player he is now, failing to fulfil his obvious talent during three seasons in the top flight.
Players such as Mitrovic and Diame have also waned during spells in the Championship. Mitrovic looked eager earlier on in the side's pre-season matches, playing well against Bradford City, but after a disappointing display against Mainz it's hard to see him making an impact in the season ahead. Diame too is no longer the free-scoring midfield engine he was while at Hull City and West Ham United.
Even if Gayle defies the odds and has a particularly good season, the club has to invest in a new forward for the season ahead, and with the transfer window at its halfway point there's still ample time to do that.
Benitez is not short of targets either, according to the Evening Standard the club have entered the race for Arsenal's wantaway striker Lucas Perez. The manager is also keen on Liverpool striker Danny Ings.
The north east club have already brought in defensive reinforcements, with Christian Atsu, Javier Manquillo and Florian Lejeune taking the limelight. The signing of Jacob Murphy for a reported £12m has also boosted prospects around the camp, with the youngster settling in quickly and bagging a goal against Bradford City.