Newcastle United’s 2012-13 season was the result of a comedy of errors, right from board room mistakes to injury crisis to failures in execution at the ground level. When the bits are dissected and the horrors re-lived, one simple thing becomes apparent. The squad was out too thin to endure the abrasion of a season that had them involved in the Europa League as well as domestic duties.
If that wasn’t bad enough, their highest scorer, Demba Ba (he finished as the leading goal scorer at the end of the season), left for greener pastures in January. When the Magpies failed to replace him with a worthy name after the deal for Loic Remy fell through, it left them in a precarious position with virtually Papiss Cisse as the only real choice upfront.
Every one, from manager Alan Pardew to the casual Newcastle fan roaming about in the street, knows where the team lacked going into the summer. But with just over three weeks left for the start of the campaign, the Tynesiders have yet to get their much coveted forward. The breakthrough, however, seems likely to come in a few days’ time. Here are 5 choices that Newcastle should have a look at and have a realistic chance of landing.
5) Demba Ba
Ba enjoyed a stunning 18 months at Tyneside, scoring 29 goals in 54 games in the black and white of Newcastle. Only Robin Van Persie and Wayne Rooney have scored more goals in the Premier League than the Senegalese in the Premier League since the time he has plied his trade in England, and yet he remains severely underrated.
Ba, who now faces stiff competition from Fernando Torres and the ever-impressive Romelo Lukaku for the sole striker’s position that Mourinho plays in his system at Chelsea, may be plotting a move away from Stamford Bridge with this being a World Cup year. It would be like rolling back the good old days, as the core of Newcastle is still unchanged since his departure.
This deal is still highly unlikely, though. Newcastle won’t be able to afford either the wages or participation in the elite European competitions that Ba craves for.
4) Andre Pierre Gignac
Gignac has been victim of the modern media culture, being labelled the next “big thing”. The Frenchman has never been able to live up to the lofty expectations that people had of him when he arrived at Marseille from Toulouse two seasons ago. The big bodied front man has netted only 22 times in 76 appearances for the southern French team in his two seasons there.
The French media remains convinced that a €12 million bid for the striker was made by Newcastle at the end of last week ,while his agent Jean-Christophe Cano has been refusing to deal with any potential suitors because he is adamant that his client has no intention of leaving the club. The decision now lies with Olympique Marseille officials, it would seem. He still, however, fails to convince many like me as to what he brings to the table for the Magpies.
3) Darren Bent
The Englishman has been one name that has been linked to the club in the North-East from day one of the off-season. When Paul Lambert condemned the England international to train away from the first team, his fate was sealed, and its inevitably away from Villa Park. Newcastle were odds on favourite for a cut-price deal of around £5 million.
However, the deal seemed to have dragged on and on for some reason or the other. First it was the price, then the wages, then Fulham’s interest, and now, it seems to be in the middle of nowhere.
Bent certainly won’t feature in the claret and blue of Aston Villa, but whether it be in the black and white of Newcastle remains to be seen. Bent certainly has a proven goal-scoring record, but often fails to contribute in any other way.
With Pardew looking to play two strikers this season, as recently stated, the similarities with Cisse seem too uncanny to warrant us a thought that this may build up to be a great partnership one day.
Remy is the loose end that Newcastle couldn’t tie up in January. The French international seemed to be heading to the North-East in the winter transfer window until Harry Redknapp and QPR had other ideas.
Remy was the last throw of the dice from Tony Fernandes & Co. Days after the president of Olympique Marseille confirmed that the club had accepted a bid in the region of €10 million for Remy from Newcastle United, the Frenchman was to be seen arriving at the London airport to take his services to QPR on a bumper deal.
With QPR unable to fight off relegation, the ex-Marseille striker has virtually free reign to leave the Londoners. The Frenchman has certainly proved that he can cut it in the Premier League in his short stint last season, and provides some real pace that the Newcastle offense has often lacked. His ability to come in from the left also adds to the versatility he has to offer the Magpies.
Talks however have come to a halt, with QPR failing to find a suitable replacement after their deal for Gary Hooper fell through.
1) Bafetimbi Gomis
After a number of days of media speculation, Alan Pardew himself declared interest in the Lyon man.
“We have expressed an interest in Gomis,” Pardew told The Times.
“We think that he’s a player who has great potential.
“He’s a French international who’s played at the highest level for his club.”
The big bodied striker certainly gives them another dimension in terms of physical presence, coupled with proven pedigree. With Gomis entering the final year of his contract, the outspoken owner of Lyon, Jean Michel Aulas, would want to cash in on the forward as much as he can.
Gomis seems to be the closest to what we may call an imminent arrival for the Magpies. There still remains, however, negotiations to thrash out the difference in valuation between the two sides.