5 Newcastle stars battling for futures as mega-rich owners eye squad overhaul

A week can seem like a long time in football. But for the past 10 days, NewcastleUnited fans have been living the dream after the day they never thought would come finally arrived.

The club were taken over by Saudi-based Public Investment Fund (PIF) on October 7, with Amanda Staveley’s PCP Capital Partners and the Reuben brothers all involved in the £305million deal to buy the club from Mike Ashley.

With it, Newcastle can now boast having a fund 10 times as rich as Manchester City ’s owners, with an eye-watering £320bn of financial backing behind them.

The deal has similarities of how Chelsea and Man City were taken over in 2003 and 2008 respectively, with the ambitious new owners ready to overhaul the North East outfit with significant investment in player recruitment and away from the pitch too.

Newcastle United Directors Amanda Staveley (R) and Mehrdad Ghodoussi (L) have promised heavy investment in the squad

Still, the Magpies will have to adhere to Financial Fair Play regulations which may limit quite how far their spending can go. But there is likely to be a major overhaul of the squad when the winter transfer window opens in January.

It is expected that Steve Bruce will be replaced in the dugout too, with his successor — yet to be identified — having the luxury of being able to assemble a squad with a flurry of signings.

Dozens of players have already been linked, from Chelsea forward Timo Werner to Barcelona star Philippe Coutinho.

While the clubs’ fans are excited with anticipation for the club’s biggest ever transfer window in January, that feeling may not be shared by some of the current Newcastle squad, with departures also likely.

Their first opportunity to impress arrives on Sunday as they face Tottenham in front of an sell-out crowd at St James’ Park, with their new owners watching from the director’s box.

Mirror Football looks at five players who could become surplus to requirements and part of the firesale, as Newcastle begin an exciting era under their new owners…


Joelinton has scored only seven goals for Newcastle United since his £40m move from Hoffenheim

When clubs like Newcastle drop a club-record £40m fee on a player, it is at least expected that their scouting network and recruitment chiefs have done their homework. But somewhere in the file on the club’s signing of Joelinton in 2019, someone dropped the ball.

The Brazilian had been an obscure figure outside of Germany after moving to Hoffenheim at the age of 18 from Sport Recife.

His goal record was respectable, with 11 goals in 34 games for the German outfit, but hardly earth-shattering. For the money Newcastle reportedly paid, there were plenty of more prolific strikers available.

But Steve Bruce wanted Joelinton, seemingly for his ability to lead the line as a target man, and got his man. He might have expected more for his money when the striker scored just twice in 38 appearances in his first season.

He doubled his tally in the 2020-21 campaign with four goals in 31 games, but it was still a long way off what the fans had expected.

Now deployed as a wide forward, it seems inevitable that whoever comes in next will want a more regular goalscorer — and that could mean a swift exit for the 25-year-old.

Miguel Almiron

Miguel Almiron is set to make his 100th appearance for Newcastle United but may be one several members of the squad axed in January

Stepping up to the Premier League is no easy feat, especially when you have spent the last three years playing in a developing league such as the USA’s Major League Soccer.

Almiron has largely failed to match expectations since his £20m switch from Atlanta United in January 2019, with the Paraguayan’s arrival sparking excitement amongst the Tyneside outfit’s fanbase.

The attacking midfielder has scored four goals in each of the last two seasons but, considering the impact of Allan Saint-Maximin in recent times, the 27-year-old may have some regrets about his contributions.

While he has been a key component of Newcastle’s squad this season, the club are expected to sanction moves for a number of creative and attacking players.

Given his struggles to produce the goals and assists numbers expected of him, Almiron could be forced out of the team to make way for the likes of Coutinho and Werner — and perhaps moved out of the club altogether.

Matt Ritchie

Matt Ritchie has seen his playing time generally decrease at Newcastle United

It was viewed as a shrewd signing by Newcastle when they snapped up Matt Ritchie for £12m from Bournemouth in 2016-17.

The club had been relegated to the Championship and needed players who were going to be dedicated towards helping them bounce back up into the top flight.

Ritchie stepped up with 12 goals in 42 appearances and was rewarded by maintaining his place for Newcastle as they stayed in the Premier League.

However, his game time has gradually decreased over the past two seasons and now 32, the Scotland international has been reduced to a bit-part role as a makeshift left-back.

He has featured in every Premier League game this season under Steve Bruce but there is likely to be an avalanche of January signings — and Ritchie could be the fall guy.

The versatile midfielder is under contract until 2023 and may be difficult to offload, although it wouldn’t be a huge surprise to see him return to the South Coast — with the Cherries now in the Championship.

Jonjo Shelvey

Jonjo Shelvey’s presence in the Newcastle side has divided fans since his move from Swansea in 2015

A talented footballer whose presence at Newcastle has divided fans for years, Jonjo Shelvey’s on-pitch antics have died down in recent years.

He has only played more than 30 Premier League games in two out of his six seasons at St James’ Park after struggling with injury problems that robbed him of his prime years.

Shelvey is an accomplished passer but it remains to be seen whether a potential replacement for Bruce would recognise his value.

Speculation has linked Newcastle with moves for a number of central midfielders, including Ross Barkley and Jesse Lingard — both of which would surely take Shelvey’s place in the side.

Isaac Hayden and Sean Longstaff could also see their places come under threat. But with Shelvey turning 30 on his next birthday, it may be the opportune time to cash in on the midfielder.

Martin Dubravka

Newcastle goalkeeper Martin Dubravka is currently sidelined with injury after undergoing foot surgery

The mysterious decline of Martin Dubravka’s position at Newcastle is something that could be resolved if Bruce is sacked as expected.

The Slovakian has gone from being undisputed number one at St James’ Park to third-choice stopper over the past 12 months after suffering with injury problems.

The 32-year-old was ever-present for Toon for the 2018-19 and 2019-20 campaigns, but a foot injury saw him sidelined last season and he only made 13 league appearances.

He is yet to appear for the club this season after undergoing surgery across the summer. But with Karl Darlow and Freddie Woodman available, he could be one of the goalkeepers sacrificed in January.

Newcastle have been linked with a £30m switch for Manchester United goalkeeper Dean Henderson, who has been demoted to second choice behind David de Gea and may welcome the chance to become a number one again.

Dubravka may be the unlucky one out of three shot stoppers, given he earns the highest wage and does not possess the homegrown status as Darlow or third-choice goalkeeper Freddie Woodman.

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