There’s been an air of excitement around St James’ Park lately.
With takeover talks said to be at an advanced stage, Newcastle fans are not only on the cusp of seeing their beloved club become the richest in Europe - perhaps even more significantly - they’re edging ever closer to seeing the back of the Wicked Witch of the South (or Mike Ashley to the rest of us).
While the Geordie faithful are already salivating at the prospect of Kylian Mbappé taking one look at the plethora of kebab shops on Newcastle high street and instantly deciding the north east is the place for him, they’ll do well to remember their potential new-found riches will more than likely spell the end for a number of Magpies favourites.
The current crop of Newcastle players may not pop up on the radar of Europe’s biggest clubs any time soon, but their industrious, workmanlike attitude appears to have secured Premier League survival for another season.
However, there may be a handful at the club who have shown enough promise to ensure they’ve still got a future on Tyneside - alongside a potential influx of superstars.
Should the takeover be approved - while the Toon Army will no doubt be baying for marquee signings - let’s take a look at some of the current Newcastle squad who could still have a big part to play in the club’s progression.
1. Martin Dúbravka
Dúbravka’s arrival on Tynseide was relatively inconspicuous. Signed on loan from Sparta Prague, the Slovakia international was brought in to bolster the club’s goalkeeping options, with neither Karl Darlow nor Rob Elliot really laying claim to the number one jersey.
After just half a season at the club, Newcastle knew they’d discovered a gem.
Dúbravka produced a number of stellar performances to ensure the club retained its top flight status. After signing permanently that summer, the goalkeeper continued his fine form, going on to be named 2018 Player of the Year by the North East Football Writers' Association.
Should Newcastle one day return to the Champions League, Dúbravka’s experience with Slovakian side MŠK Žilina in Europe’s premier competition will no doubt prove invaluable, and he could be a solid foundation to build a successful team on.
2. Jamaal Lascelles
Despite being raised in the Nottingham Forest academy, any Newcastle fan will tell you that Lascelles has become an adopted Geordie. In a world where Premier League footballers are treated like rock stars, the captain offers a connection between fans and the team which is often sorely lacking.
It would be naive to suggest that Newcastle couldn’t go out and buy a better defender – of course they could – but successful teams aren’t built purely on talent. A team needs character, drive and work ethic to become successful, something the former Forest man has in abundance.
Some fans of clubs who’ve been taken over by billionaires will tell you they miss the old days, when they felt like they had a connection with the players rather than just watching a group of mercenaries (admittedly brilliantly talented mercenaries, but mercenaries nonetheless).
Lascelles can ensure Newcastle don’t become that club.
3. Jonjo Shelvey
What a peculiar career this man has had.
Once dubbed the next big thing in the England midfield, Shelvey’s dream move to Liverpool at just 18 years of age soon became a nightmare. The record books will tell you he made 69 appearances for one of the best clubs in the country; realistically, he never even came close to making an impression in a distinctly average Liverpool side.
Since then, the midfielder has rebuilt his career at Swansea, bossed the Championship with Newcastle, yet just as he looks to be set to flourish, he just can’t produce consistently in the Premier League.
However, there is a future for the 28-year-old at St James’ Park. While every Newcastle fan will defend their team to the hill, one thing they will never argue with is their team do not play attractive football - there’s a reason they brought Andy Carroll and Joelinton to the club last summer.
If the prospective Newcastle owners were to bring in a more footballing-minded manager, and start actually playing like they had a midfield instead of just hoofing the ball from the defence to attack, Shelvey has proved he’s got the passing range to sit in midfield and produce the quality to unlock defences.
4. Allan Saint-Maximin
You never quite know what you’re going to get with Saint-Maximin, but that’s kind of the fun.
While he can infuriate and leave fans wondering what on earth he was ever trying to do as he shimmies and shakes before producing ten unnecessary step-overs and spooning the ball out of play, he can also produce the spectacular.
His goal at Oxford earlier this season in the FA Cup proved just what a talent he can be, picking up the ball on the left hand side before driving at the Yellows backline, skipping past three challenges before rifling the ball into the top corner.
Should Newcastle become a force to be reckoned with in the Premier League again, they’ll need to get used to teams visiting St James’ Park and looking to frustrate them with 11 men behind the ball. Enigmatic forwards can be the key to breaking down a rigid defence, and that’s exactly what Saint-Maximin is.
5. Sean Longstaff
Injuries have hampered the progression of the Magpies youngster somewhat, though at just 22 years of age it’s clear Newcastle have an immense talent on their hands.
While brother Matty may have grabbed the headlines this season with his two dream goals against Manchester United, it’s Sean who looks the more rounded footballer.
His ability to spray passes around the pitch and break up play has already seen him linked with a move to United, despite having made just 25 Premier League appearances.
The midfielder has proven he’s got an eye for goal in loan spells at Kilmarnock and Blackpool, and if he can keep his feet on the ground he’s going to have a hugely successful career - that could well be with Newcastle.
Source : 90min