Why Newcastle's Top Priority Should Be to Sign an Attacking Midfielder Before the Transfer Deadline
Newcastle earned their first win last weekend since returning to the Premier League with a convincing 3-0 win over West Ham.
However, there still seems to be discontent among Newcastle's fans and manager surrounding the lack of transfer activity, with many feeling they still do not have the quality to survive this season.
Clearly new signings are needed then, but Benitez has already said players must go before he can buy.
With Grant Hanley, Siem De Jong and Riviere all having left already, with Haidara and Lazaar set to follow, Benitez now has less than two days to reinforce his squad.
A left back and goalkeeper are still thought to be high on Benitez's wish list. However, an attacking midfielder may well be the most needed area for improvement, with the first team looking weak in this area.
After the departure of Siem de Jong to Ajax earlier this week, a player many fans would've liked to have seen given a chance in the Premier League, Newcastle only have two recognised attacking midfielders in their squad.
Ayoze Perez and Mohamed Diame are those two players, but both are arguably not good enough for the Premier League.
Perez is Benitez's preferred option in behind the striker and has started every Premier League game for the Magpies so far.
However, in each of those games Perez has looked out of his depth. The young Spaniard looks too lightweight for the Premier League, while not offering a sufficient goal threat or the creative flair Newcastle need to score enough goals this season.
The problem is that Perez would really rather play as a striker on the last man where his pace could make up for his lack of strength, because he's been built to play in that position it means he doesnt have the range of passing needed for his current role.
As for Diame he has the strength needed for the Premier League, but again lacks the creativity and arguably the work-rate, needed for that role. As a result Benitez often looks to bring Diame on into a more defensive central midfield role.
As a result Newcastle don't have a Premier League quality attacking midfielder to sit in behind Gayle, Joselu or Mitrovic. However, Benitez likes to have a player in that position and has always played that way, such that it is vital he strengthens in this area.
One player linked with the club, who would fit nicely into this role, has been Sampdoria's Dennis Praet, however a move is yet to materialize.
Fans have also suggested that Shelvey or Ritchie could move into these areas, however it would take time for them to adjust to new role, while also meaning you take two of Newcastle's most creative players out of their most comfortable positions.
Newcastle rely too heavily on Ritchie, Atsu and Shelvey for assists with Perez rarely chipping in, such that a signing in this area of the pitch would be welcomed by Newcastle fans as the window draws to a close.