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Five things to learn from Newcastle’s pre-season

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Newcastle united
Image: @NUFC via Twitter

Pre-season is over and Newcastle’s Premier League campaign starts on 6th August. The Magpies’ extensive run of friendlies holds some clues as to one what next season might look like and raises some new questions.

Back-to-back wins bode well

Newcastle head into the Premier League campaign in good form after four wins out of six friendlies across July. With an opening fixture against newly promoted Nottingham Forest less than a week away, victories over Gateshead, 1860 Munich, Atalanta and Athletic Bilbao will give the Magpies confidence.

The Magpies secured a 2-1 home win over Athletic Bilbao on Saturday thanks to goals from Wilson and Sain-Maximin. This was preceded by a 1-0 victory over Atalanta just the previous day. Consecutive victories at St James’ Park against European opposition will encourage fans.

Howe told NUFC TV that winning is a “nice habit to get into” and that “preseason has gone as well as it can go”. He played down speculation about form going into the new season “he wouldn’t read too much into” the clubs’ victories. 

Newfound squad depth but few first XI clues

Friendlies are always an opportunity for a manager to experiment with different line-ups. With Howe telling press that “pre-season is used for lots of different things,” anticipating Howe’s first choice XI is an impossible task.

Rotating the starting XI frequently, including playing back-to-back friendlies against high level European opposition, the games highlighted the growing depth to Newcastle’s squad. New signings and the emergence of young talents like Elliot Anderson show that Howe has ranks to call on through the season.

A few key positions remain contested. For example, the manager is clearly creating competition between Nick Pope and Martin Dubravka for the goalkeeper spot, with both sharing preseason minutes. On the wing, Miguel Almiron impressed with a double against Benfica but Newcastle’s search for another forward to compete is well documented.

19-year-old Anderson pushes for first team spot

The usual suspects, Callum Wilson, Allan Saint-Maximin and Bruno Guimaraes were among the goals as ever, and even Miguel Almiron impressed over pre-season. However, it was academy graduate Elliot Anderson who caused the biggest stir.

Elliot Anderson has been the breakout star of Newcastle’s pre-season. The 19-year-old midfielder spent last season on loan to Bristol Rovers in League Two but has been given plenty of preseason game time by Eddie Howe. The Whitley Bay native was clearly keen to impress and was a constantly lively and creative presence in midfield.

The young midfielder earned the deciding penalty against Atalanta on Friday, being tripped after some sharp movement in the box. Howe praised Anderson’s performance: “I thought Elliot today again was very very good. Tactically, physically, technically a very high level performance.”

He will now have a decision to make whether the youngster is ready to feature in his plans this season.

Anderson talked to NUFC TV about his pre-season and fight for a place in the team: “I thought I’ve done well. I still need to improve and try to do better things. I’d love to stay.”

Signings Pope and Botman given debuts

Nick Pope had a calm debut, keeping a clean sheet against 1860 Munich. He had a more eventful first half appearance against Benfica. He conceded two in 45 minutes, at fault for one after failing to claim a corner. Pope showed his worth however, with an outstanding double save to deny last season’s Champions League quarter-finalists. 

He marked his home debut against Atalanta with another clean sheet. The ex-Burnley keeper was not tested much but looked assured when called into action with relatively routine saves.

Howe split appearances evenly between goalkeepers Nick Pope and Martin Dubravka, suggesting that the number one spot next season is still up for grabs.

Sven Botman also made his debut as a substitute against 1860 Munich earlier in the month. A more significant test came when he made his St James’ Park debut in the more intense match against Athletic Bilbao on Saturday. 

Boss Eddie Howe was impressed by Botman’s performance: “Very solid. Very composed on the ball. He uses the ball very intelligently. He’s got a lovely relaxed manner on the pitch, but when he needs to defend and be aggressive I think he’s prepared and able to do that too. I thought it was a very good home debut.” 

Howe’s praise could mark the Dutch centre-back out as a likely starter once the league gets underway next Saturday.

St James’ Park packed for friendlies

Earlier in the summer, queues reached outside St James’ Park for tickets to Newcastle’s home friendlies. Close to 47,000 were in attendance on Saturday afternoon to watch the 2-1 victory over Bilbao, with an additional 40,000 on Friday watching Atalanta. 

After his home debut against the Basque side, Botman noted the presence of the fans: “If you asked me to tell you one club in the world with a full stadium for a friendly game I couldn’t, but Newcastle is one.”

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Newcastle Ready To Make Offers For Attacking Duo

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Newcastle transfer duo

According to 90min Football, Newcastle are ready to make offers for Lyon playmaker Lucas Paquetá and Marseille forward Bamba Dieng.

Eddie Howe is keen to add attacking reinforcement to his Newcastle squad before the end of the summer transfer window. The Magpies have so far bolstered their defensive options with the arrivals of Matt Target, Sven Botman and goalkeeper Nick Pope.

Newcastle have struggled to sign attacking players so far in the window with clubs and agents demanding higher fees due to the financial wealth behind the new ownership at St James’ Park.

Brazilian midfielder Lucas Paquetá is a name that has been linked with a move to Newcastle since the arrival of former teammate Bruno Guimarães in January.

The 24-year-old is reportedly available for a cut price of £34,000,000 but also has interest from Premier League rivals Arsenal.

Paquetá would complete a trio of Brazilians in midfield at Newcastle, adding to Joelinton and Bruno Guimarães. Paquetá is a different type of player to the formally mentioned pair as he is usually deployed as an advanced midfielder which, should he arrive, would complement The Toon’s midfield nicely.

On Saturday’s opening Premier League fixture against Nottingham Forest, that position was occupied by Joe Willock, who received a 6.95 rating from, WhoScored while, Joelinton and Bruno Guimarães received ratings of 8.69 and 8.18 respectively.

This season is a big season for the former Arsenal man, as he has so far struggled to rekindle his form from the 2020/2021 loan spell with the club since his permanent move.

Jonjo Shelvey faces at least 12 weeks out after undergoing hamstring surgery, meaning Eddie Howe is particularly light of options in the middle of the park.

Elliot Anderson will be staying with the first team after previously expecting to be heading out on loan this campaign. However, his performances in pre-season have impressed The Magpies’ manager.

The academy graduate was an unused sub on Saturday, but I’d suspect he will be utilised when Newcastle are needing a creative spark from midfield late in the game, which was not required on the weekend.

It’s clear that Eddie Howe is hoping to add an advanced midfielder before the window shuts on August 31st, with multiple bids rejected for Leicester City playmaker James Maddison.

Newcastle may go in for a third time for the former Norwich City man, but The Magpies’ hierarchy will be well aware of the FFP restrictions that may see them move for a more affordable target, such as Paquetá.

Marseille forward Bamba Dieng is the other player that Newcastle are set to bid for, who is reportedly available for £12,500,000.

Dieng had a breakthrough season with Marseille last year, scoring 7 goals in 25 games in Ligue 1. The 22-year-old is predominantly a centre-forward but can also play left and right-wing, which would give Newcastle some versatility in the forward positions.

West Ham, Leeds and Celtic are also interested in the Senegalese international, who will be hoping to feature in the World Cup later this year.

Newcastle have been linked with several forwards this summer, including Benjamin Šeško, who has recently joined RB Leipzig.

Eddie Howe will want another forward this summer due to the injury record of Callum Wilson, who, when fit is Newcastle’s first-choice striker.

Wilson got off to a great start to the new Premier League campaign with a clever chip to beat Dean Henderson in the Forest goal and help The Magpies to a 2-0 opening day win.

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Eddie Howe opens up on Anderson’s “big role this season”, transfers wishes and more

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@NUFC via twitter

Newcastle boss Eddie Howe has told press that “we’re trying to bring an attacker in.” He also hinted that youngster Elliot Anderson will “have a big part to play this season” and previewed the opening fixture.

Eddie Howe spoke to NUFC TV in the lead up to the start of the new Premier League campaign.

Howe, who was appointed at Newcastle last November, spoke of settling into the area.

“It’s a massive difference having my family close to me. I’ve had a good summer in terms of getting to know the area better, spending more time here. I just feel ready to go and I feel Newcastle Manager now. It took a while to feel settled, not through anyone’s reaction.”

Although, Howe confessed he is yet to pick up any Geordie culture: “I’m so busy with my job and so intense in the role that i have very little time for getting into any local traditions. Hopefully that will change as time evolves.”

The former Bournemouth manager also addressed how the squad are progressing to implement his tactics and philosophy.

He emphasised the room for improvement, saying: “I think the players know what I want now. Knowing what you want and delivering it in the way that you want to is easier said than done. We’re at the highest level and we’re playing against very good teams who are also trying to implement their style on us.

“We’re always working to try and be perfect and we’ve got a long way to go before we get there. I do think we’re along the way now and the key thing is they understand what we want.”

He had praise for Miguel Almiron after an impressive pre-season. “He was a very important player for us last year. At the back end of the season he was terrific without getting the goals and the headlines his performances deserve.”

The winger scored six overall in pre-season, including a double against Benfica.

“Everyone knows Miggy is such a hard worker, such a team player. I’d love him to get some individual reward off the back of that with more goals.”

He also discussed the potential of Eliot Anderson, the young midfielder who impressed in pre-season: “he hasn’t looked out of place among established Premier League. He’s more than held his own. He’ll have a big part to play this season.”

On transfers, Howe was open: “we’re trying to bring an attacker in or someone who can play in forward positions.” After having missed out on a number of attacking targets, he seemed wary that “the transfer marker is so unpredictable.”

“I don’t think [the team] will look drastically different. We’re trying to bring in quality rather than numbers. We’ve got to be smart with what money we do have.”

Turning to Saturday’s fixture, Howe lauded Nottingham Forest. “I’ve been very impressed by Nottingham Forest. Last season the job Steve Cooper did was incredible.”

“After last year waiting so long for a win it would be great if we could make a really good start to this season.”

 

 

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Transfer Latest: Leicester Reject £50,000,000 Bid From Newcastle For Midfield Star

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Leicester's maddison
Image: @premierleague via Twitter

According to The Guardian, Leicester City have rejected Newcastle’s improved offer of £45,000,000 plus £5,000,000 in add-ons for midfielder James Maddison.

The opening bid from The Magpies was in the region of £40,000,000 for the Leicester City playmaker, which was swiftly rejected. It’s understood that The Foxes value Maddison at around the £60,000,000 mark.

Leicester manager Brendon Rodgers said that the opening bid from The Magpies “might just cover three-quarters of his left leg”. Rodgers later stressed that his side will not be “exploited” by other Premier League clubs given their current financial situation.

Newcastle’s hierarchy are currently hesitant in meeting Leicester City’s valuation for Maddison as they don’t want to overpay for players due to FFP restrictions. The new owners have already spent around the £150,000,000 mark in less than 12 months.

The Foxes are set to lose goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel. He is close to joining French side Nice, with the deal expected to be completed in the coming days. Leicester are reportedly interested in signing Newcastle keeper Martin Dúbravka as Schmeichel’s replacement, meaning Dúbravka could potentially be used as a makeweight in the Maddison deal.

The former Norwich City man is third for chances created in the Premier League since August 2018 with 278, just behind the division’s top creators Kevin De Bryune and Trent Alexander-Arnold.

Lucas Paquetá

It is clear that Eddie Howe is looking to add an attack-minded midfielder to his side with links to the likes of Lucas Paquetá since the start of the window.

Lyon midfielder Lucas Paquetá has been linked with a move to the North East since the arrival of Bruno Guimarães in January. Paquetá is a close friend to Guimarães as they both played together in midfield at Lyon. Guimarães has recently released a message on Instagram to his former teammate:

Leicester reject 50m for maddison

Image: @brunoguimaraes via Instagram

The message reads, “I miss you brother!!! I miss you every day I love you so much my friend @lucaspaqueta ❤️”

Lyon’s head of recruitment, Bruno Cheyrou, has not ruled out a sale for the Brazilian midfielder who is reportedly available for a fee in the region of £34,000,000 after previously being valued at almost double the price mentioned.

If the reports from the French media outlet Media Foot regarding the asking price are correct, Paquetá could provide The Toon with a cheaper alternative to Maddison which could be an appealing solution for the Newcastle hierarchy.

However, it’s believed that Arsenal are currently leading the race for the 24-year-old’s signature, but Paquetá could prefer a move to St James’ Park to be reunited with close friend Bruno Guimarães.

Maxwel Cornet

Burnley winger Maxwel Cornet is another name that has been recently linked with a move to the North East but face competition from Premier League rivals Everton, West Ham and new boys Nottingham Forest.

It has been revealed that Cornet has a £17,500,000 release clause in his current contract at The Clarets and is open to a move following their relegation to the Championship last season.

The 25-year-old is predominantly seen as a left-winger but can also play at left-back. Adding more quality to the forward positions is one of Eddie Howe’s priorities for the remainder of the window, as he is yet to sign a forward player.

Cornet was left out of Vincent Kompany’s squad for Burnley’s Championship opening fixture at Huddersfield Town on Friday night.

The Ivory Coast international could provide a more suitable option financially due to the £40,000,000 asking price for Leeds winger Jack Harrison, who has been previously linked with a move to The Toon.

Eddie Howe’s side have already seen a bid of £33,500,000 rejected by Leeds and are unwilling to pay over their valuation for the former Manchester City man.

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