Newcastle United have the Champions League in their sights – but what players should they target as they look to compete with Europe’s elite?
Despite the excitement around the potential of the Champions League anthem ringing around St James’ Park next season, there are still a few vulnerable areas within Eddie Howe’s squad which need addressing during the summer transfer window to make the Magpies competitive in Europe and domestically.
The general consensus from the Toon fans is that there are three or four main areas in the starting 11 that need improving, as well as the depth in the overall squad.
Today we take a statistical look at some players we believe would improve the group at Newcastle.
The idea of Bruno Guimarães playing in a slightly more advanced role in that midfield three is often passed about, but Howe seems to have settled on him as the deeper midfielder to help control possession.
The Magpies have been a great watch this season, however at times they have struggled to break down low-block teams, with the midfield screaming out for some creativity during these games.
Two players to have been linked with Newcastle ahead of this summer are Lazio’s Sergej Milinkovic-Savic and Celta Vigo’s Gabri Veiga.
The 28-year-old Serbian midfielder has been on the radar of many top clubs around Europe for years but is yet to have made a move away from Lazio after being at the club for eight years.
Milinkovic-Savic and Sean Longstaff both receive a similar number of progressive passes per game, but the attacking output is much better.
It is not only goalscoring output that the Serbian can boast over Longstaff, but his superior creative abilities would allow Newcastle to create even more chances in matches.
After a great breakout season, Veiga will be a highly sought-after player this summer, but the Magpies could be the perfect move for the 20-year-old midfielder.
The young Spaniard shows an incredible ability to carry the ball forward to create chances for himself or teammates, making two more progressive carries per game than Longstaff.
Whilst Veiga’s creative stats are impressive, he really excels in his goalscoring productivity, registering plenty of shots per game.
An area that clearly needs addressing in the summer transfer window is the left-hand side of defence, with Dan Burn often struggling to offer support going to the winger going forward at the same time as contributing effectively to the defence.
Two potential options Newcastle could explore are Quentin Merlin or Milos Kerkez.
The 20-year-old has plenty of appearances to his name for Nantes in France with the full back impressing over the last two seasons.
Merlin’s defensive game certainly is not his strongest area, but the young Frenchman still puts up some impressive numbers and would work well in a progressive team that Newcastle are hoping to be.
The young full back is at his best when his team have possession of the ball often, with Merlin being a fantastic creative outlet down the left.
There are few left backs in world football that can carry the ball as well as Merlin and despite being so young, he finds himself as one of the best progressive passers in Europe.
The 19-year-old Hungarian international has started most games for AZ Alkmaar this season as well as making 10 appearances in the Europa Conference League.
His attacking stats are very impressive for a full back and could offer Newcastle some creative help for whoever is playing on the left-wing. As well as offering support for others, his impressive number of progressive carries and passes will allow him to create chances for himself and his teammates.
For such a young full back his defensive statistics are also quite impressive, and with Howe wanting to set his team up progressively his numbers are more than adequate. With a similar number of tackles, interceptions, and blocks.
Newcastle will look to bolster their attacking options this summer, with the recruitment team likely looking at a versatile forward who can play anywhere across the front line.
The fans will be looking forward to a new attacking arrival on Tyneside this summer as occasionally the Magpies have struggled to take chances in matches this season, leading to more draws than Howe would have liked.
Newcastle have been heavily linked with Bayer Leverkusen winger Moussa Diaby and Barcelona winger Raphinha.
The 23-year-old French winger was on Newcastle’s transfer list last summer and will no doubt attempt to land his signature this year.
When looking at his attacking statistics, it is clear to see why Diaby is high on the shopping list of many clubs around Europe.
While it is clear to see that Diaby would instantly come in and improve Newcastle’s front line on the attacking end, would he be able to match the defensive contributions needed to operate in this Newcastle side?
Even though the defensive stats do not look great in comparison to the current wingers, these could well rapidly improve under the management of Howe playing in a different system.
Raphinha spent two years with Leeds in the between 2020 and 2022 which would fit Eddie Howe’s search for Premier League proven players.
His impressive form over those two years earnt him a move to Barcelona last summer, but after a relatively poor season it is looking increasingly likely to leave the Camp Nou this year.
Despite a disappointing period in Spain, would it be worth bringing the Brazilian back to England?
Raphinha would instantly come in and be able to improve the Newcastle front line, providing a high number of goals and expected assists over the last year.
The 26-year-old is seemingly a perfect fit for the Magpies under Howe, as he not only contributes effectively going forward, but also has a significant impact for his team defensively, making a good number of tackles and interceptions per game.
With Raphinha being a hard worker for the team, he could be the perfect signing for Newcastle as they look to stabilise themselves as a Champions League team.