2022 World Cup | Five players Newcastle United should monitor this winter in Qatar

Eddie Howe’s squad has turned heads in 2022-23 but the Magpies are in need of additional depth in quality if they are to sustain an unexpected shot at Champions League football next season

There once was a time when Newcastle United was viewed as one of the top clubs in England; a stretch of fourteen years between 1992 and 2006 that saw Tyneside awash with thousands of Geordie’s singing on European nights for twelve seasons while the likes of Alan Shearer, Nolberto Solano, and the late, great, Gary Speed reigned supreme.

But since 2005-06 there has been only one season, 2011-12, where the Magpies finished above tenth while suffering multiple relegations under the poor leadership of former owner Mike Ashley, while many in the northeast began to feel as though the club may never return to former glories.

Enter Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund in October of 2021.

Since prying St. James’ Park out of Ashley’s clutches, PIF was clear in their aim; to mold Newcastle back into a club that can, and hopefully would once again, challenge the Premier League establishment. Credible aims, no doubt, though many would not have imagined that it would have happened so soon.

Fast forward twelve months and the Magpies are flying high in the Premier League and come into the extended international break for the 2022 World Cup in third place, ahead of Tottenham, Manchester United, Liverpool, and Chelsea, with headmaster Eddie Howe showing he may just be one of the best English managers in years.

Despite all their success thus far, Newcastle must remember that the Premier League landscape is ever-shifting, and the vast sums of wealth behind them must be mobilized both expertly and in large amounts if they are to sustainably become a top-four club at the very least.

The need to improve year after year is a real one, and though no one can take away the career season’s the likes of Miguel Almirón, Fabian Schär, and Kieran Tripper are having, the Magpies need more quality in depth if this is to not be a flash in the pan.

With that in mind, here are five players that Newcastle can look to for further squad investment to ensure that this season’s fairytale becomes next season’s reality.

Arthur Theate

Age: 22

National Team: Belgium

Current Club: Stade Rennais Football Club

Few, if any, can take much away from first-choice center-back pair Sven Botman and Fabian Schär this season. Botman, a summer signing from Ligue 1 outfit LOSC Lille has settled quickly at St. James’ Park alongside a Swiss veteran in Schär who has turned the clock back in 2022-23 and putting in what is one of the best seasons of his career.

But past Howe’s trusted defensive duopoly there is just Dan Burn and Jamal Lascelles. On paper, at least, that type of depth will not suffice if Newcastle is to push on all fronts next season, which at the time of writing would include Europe. One center-back the Magpies could look to monitor in Qatar comes in the vein of Belgian international Arthur Theate.

Theate has enjoyed a meteoric rise in his young career since his full debut for Jupiler Pro League outfit KV Oostende in 2020 which saw him make 35 appearances despite being just 20 at the time. But it was his loan spell at Bologna last term that earned him a move to Stade Rennais in the summer, and Theate already nailed down a key starting role at Roazhon Park under manager Bruno Génésio and to date has already featured on 20 occasions both in Ligue 1 and the Europa League.

Where Theate lacks in an aerial presence he makes up for on the ground, with very good recovery pace combined with ball-playing ability in a more modern center-back frame that could help elevate Newcastle’s style of play under Howe. With an age profile that suits the long-term trajectory of the club and Newcastle already finding success in France in terms of recruitment since PIF’s arrival, this would signal smart business once more.

Borna Sosa

Age: 24

National Team: Croatia

Current Club: Verein für Bewegungsspiele Stuttgart 1893 e.V.

The contributions of veteran England right-back Kieran Trippier have been, in a word, sublime. The former Burnley, Tottenham, and Atlético Madrid star returned to the Premier League as one of the first signings of a new era on Tyneside and has categorically been one of the top defenders in the league this season. But on the opposite flank at St. James’ Park, there is still room for improvement in terms of quality.

Matt Targett has been solid as expected while Jamal Lewis and Paul Dummett are serviceable should the need arise, but the trio of left-backs fall short of the level of quality that is likely necessary to compete year on year at a higher level of expectation, and one left-back that should be set to star for his country this winter is Croatia’s Borna Sosa.

Sosa is hardly an unheard-of commodity in Europe, having shot through the youth ranks at production pipeline Dinamo Zagreb before making his first-team debut in 2015. By 2018 he had already made the jump to one of the top leagues in Europe when he arrived at Bundesliga club VfB Stuttgart.

Currently in his fifth season in Baden-Württemberg, Sosa remains one of the most potent offensive tools in Stuttgart’s arsenal despite being a left-back. Already on five assists this term in just twelve appearances, Sosa is in on track to best his last two campaigns which saw him bag 8 and 9 assists respectively from 2020-2022. A modern full-back that offers quality service with a killer left foot that can turn goalscorer all while being a threat on set-pieces, Sosa inevitably will want to move away from Stuttgart to bigger and better things. Newcastle fits the bill.

Pervis Estupiñán

Age: 24

National Team: Ecuador

Current Club: Brighton & Hove Albion

Another left-back for Newcastle boss Eddie Howe to keep tabs on this winter is a little closer to home in Brighton’s Pervis Estupiñán, who is a recent arrival on England’s south coast after his summer move from La Liga outfit Villarreal.

Estupiñán is the third Ecuadorian talent to arrive at the American Express Community Stadium in the last two seasons as the club continues to find value for money in players that developed in smaller markets, but the LDU Quito academy product has already cut his teeth in one of the top leagues in the world while already boasting European competition on his CV during his time with the Yellow Submarine under now Aston Villa boss Unai Emery.

His arrival at Brighton has gone down well, too, during his first season in England across twelve appearances in all competitions that showboat his ability in the press, pace to turn, credible passing numbers, and keen instincts in his reading of channels in front of him.

Unlike Sosa, Estupiñán offers more experience in continental competitions and will also come with the desirable tag of having been a Premier League-proven player by the time the winter and summer windows roll around. The one drawback of his current game can probably come down to a bit of inconsistency, though it is fair to suggest that would fade as he continues to adapt to life in England, and could possibly view interest from Newcastle as an immediate stepping stone back into European appearances.

Jesper Lindstrøm

Age: 22

National Team: Denmark

Current Club: Eintracht Frankfurt e.V.

Moving further up the pitch, we now take a look at Newcastle’s attacking options under Eddie Howe that are, more or less, quite solid when all things are considered.

At the time of writing, Paraguayan attacking midfielder Miguel Almirón is having a career season on Tyneside that has defied all expectations as he sits on 8 Premier League goals (6th best in the division) and is fresh off winning both the goal of the month and the player of the month for October. Moreover, Callum Wilson has earned his way into Gareth Southgate’s England squad on the back of strong performances this season, Joelinton has been reborn as a utility player of note, Allan Saint-Maximin is influential as ever - when fit - and this has all been without summer signing Alexander Isak who remains on the treatment table.

But despite the options, Newcastle lacks the attacking depth that could handle a two-front campaign at home and abroad should they achieve immediate aims of securing European football next season. In that light, Danish attacking midfielder Jesper Lindstrøm fits the bill.

Still just 22 and already a key figure in Germany’s financial capital with Eintracht Frankfurt, Lindstrøm presents both a creative outlet as well as someone capable of adding goals to the forward line while versatile enough to play on either side of a narrow front-three that Howe often turns to.

Lindstrøm’s 6 Bundesliga goals are good for second in frankfurt’s team, just one behind highly-touted Japanese international Daichi Kamada and has also found the back of the net in the Champions League as Frankfurt reached the knockout stages. Though not brilliant in possession, he drives play exceptionally well when on the ball and can pick a key pass in the final third quite well. Similar to Almirón on that front, he offers more goals than Saint-Maximin but without the same fitness concerns. Definitely one to watch.

Kamaldeen Sulemana

Age: 20

National Team: Ghana

Current Club: Stade Rennais Football Club

Last, but certainly not least, we go back to Brittany to once again survey the budding talents of Stade Rennais’s Ghanaian international Kamaldeen Sulemana as the Right to Dream Academy product and former FC Norsjælland standout continues his rapid progression in the development avenues of France.

Highly touted during his time in Denmark and billed as one for the future for the Black Stars, Sulemana has rebounded well from an unfortunate injury last season in his first year at Rennais that interrupted a breakout season of note.

Sulemana would probably present one of the bigger transfer risks for Newcastle on this list, not because he does not have a wealth of potential, but more so that he currently is not viewed as a first-choice option with Rennais and has only featured in the starting XI on four occasions across fourteen combined appearances. But his ability is still evident and glaring when he does feature, particularly his blistering pace and technical quality that does not diminish despite his quickness.

Incredibly direct - like Saint-Maximin - and with an eye for goal that was on display during his time in Denmark, Sulemana would be an ideal long-term move for the club in a young player that would not demand to be viewed as a first-choice option while also adapting to life under the guidance of ASM on the left-flank and could be a very effective long-term move that would grow alongside Isak (still just 23) while keeping tactical continuity across improved depth in the team.

Andrew Thompson

US-based Football writer. German football guru with a wealth of experience in youth development and analysis. Data aficionado. Happily championing the notion that Americans have a knowledgeable voice in the beautiful game.

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