Twenty-four down, twelve to go… In the last of his three-part analysis of our 2022-23 squad and their possible futures, Maziar Jamnejad turns his attention to our midfielders.
In the third and final part of our series, we analyse what is likely to be the most contentious part of the teamsheet – midfield. Twelve playmakers is a lot, especially for a club going into a transfer window saying they don’t have enough midfielders. We’ll be limited in who can move on by the UEFA homegrown player rule, with four of the possible six eligible players being midfielders.
Part of the reasoning for slimming the squad is to create FFP headroom. Alongside the forwards, it is the midfielders where we might be able to secure decent transfer fees, and we won’t like what that involves. Our midfield needs strengthening, but many of the current squad are core to our game
Bruno Guimãraes: Let’s be clear – he’s our best player. But he’s famous. Really famous. A Brazil international with a theatrical flair, he is just the type of galactico that the superclubs swear by. It is possible that he has done enough to get a Cristiano Ronaldo style insane offer. When Darren Eales was asked this question, he said there’s a price you’d sell any player at, and for Bruno, it’s not impossible to get a record breaking offer. Looking at recent transfer prices. Taking Casemiro (£60m) and Grealish (£100m) as examples of players that would make the first team straight away, a price between £120m and £150m would mean that losing Bruno would strengthen the squad as a whole. Take a brave Ashworth to make that call though. Prediction: stay.
Joelinton: A powerhouse in the team with the versality to play anywhere from defensive midfielder to front of the formation on the left wing, he’d be an easy proposition for many teams, but would need to command well more than the £40m Newcastle paid in 2019 and that is unlikely. He’ll need replacing by more than one player, and we won’t get talent of his calibre for £20m a pop. Prediction: stay.
Sean Longstaff: Not making anyone’s first team last summer, he has been absolutely indispensable and missed when absent. His impact on the squad would not be the same at another club and any transfer offer that is realistic would underestimate his value to us. That value to us is elevated by him being a UEFA homegrown player. Prediction: stay.
Matty Longstaff: Back from loan in Colchester and injured, he was nowhere near the first team. Any suspicion we might need to keep him just to ensure we meet the homegrown player rule was quashed by his release this week. Outcome: go.
Joe Willock: Picked up by us at the end of Summer 21 for £25m, his performance last season means he’s likely to solicit offers for a bit more than that. If you take Gordon as a benchmark at £40m, Willock would need to be coming in higher than that for it to be realistic to use the proceeds to get a better player. Something around £50m would be an easy decision, but it’ll not happen. Prediction: stay.
Elliot Anderson: He hasn’t turned out to be the Geordie Pele we thought he might be, well, not yet. After 22 appearances in his first season with the senior team, and meeting the stricter 4 man homegrown player rule, he’ll be with the squad come August unless he secures a really meaty loan. Prediction: stay.
Anthony Gordon: As with Ashby, it’s too early to form a view on his potential, and his £40m price tag will be hard for many clubs to match. It’ll be a growth season for him, but he’ll do it from the bench rather than the reserves or loan. Prediction: stay.
Jacob Murphy: Responsible for the meme of the season with the waving off of Caleta-Car in the Carabao semi-final, Murphy has shown himself able to fight for his place in the squad and compete when he gets minutes. Estimated to be worth £10m, it’d be a shame to lose a decent rotation player for that little and an exit would be motivated more by the need to trim squad numbers for new transfers than for FFP. I’d be delighted to see him stay in black and white. Prediction: stay.
Matt Ritchie: He’s a good influence on the dressing room, and he showed his value when Gordon lost his rag. He’s a welcome face at the training ground, but keeping him on the squad feels like an indulgence we can’t afford. A surprise retention this week. Outcome: stay.
Isaac Hayden: Returning from loan at Norwich, he’s unlikely to get any minutes, even with Newcastle’s busier schedule next season. Three years remaining on his contract might mean he’s easier to loan out than to sell. Prediction: go.
Jeff Hendrick: On loan in 22/23 at Reading, there’s little chance of him playing any football were he to remain at Newcastle. Prediction: go.
Lewis Miley: He’s been in recent after-game photos and got some minutes against Chelsea in the last game of the season. I doubt he’ll make the 25 man squad, but with our threadbare roster of Newcastle trained players, he is unlikely to be transferred. A loan would not be outrageous. Prediction: go.
Predicted movements: 8 kept (Bruno, Joelinton, S Longstaff, Ritchie, Willock, Anderson, Gordon, Murphy), 4 out (M Longstaff, Hayden, Hendrick, Miley)
Postscript: The Data
Over the last three weeks we have presented a player by player analysis of likely leavers in the summer window. The view we’ve given is of radical change, and that is fed by a number of factors:
• We need to exit 11 players to reach the 25 man squad cap.
• We need to exit an additional 4 to make room for expected transfers in.
• Some players will have to stay in the squad to meet the UEFA homegrown players rule, and Dummett and Matty Longstaff may receive contract extensions.
• For FFP, we need to get some money in so we can spend more, and that means getting rid of some good players who can command decent fees.
We have therefore identified 16 from the 36 man full squad that would need to leave. When the rubber hits the road, it won’t shake out that way though. Some players won’t attract any offers. Some will not attract good offers. Some of our better players will leave for FFP reasons. But the fact that 36 into 25 does not go is indisputable.
To help you make up your own mind, in this postscript we provide the data that went into our analysis.
Maziar Jamnejad (@maziarjamnejad)