Newcastle United FC – Recruitment Analysis – Part Four

Striker

Having signed in the summer of 2020 and hit the ground running excellently, it would seem that Callum Wilson is set to be the club’s primary source of goals for the coming seasons, if all goes to plan (it’s a big “if”… I know). As mentioned in part one, Joelinton looks more comfortable in his second striker role and at 24 he is starting to get used to life in the Premier League and hopefully he can continue to develop and become an important asset for the team. 

However, beyond those two, perhaps some problems start to arise, with the fear that should Wilson get injured, there would be a lack of players able to pick up the mantle and score goals for the team. Dwight Gayle marked his return from injury with a winning goal against West Brom in December 2020, however, he is yet to prove himself as a consistent goalscorer at Premier League level, and although he does provide a decent option off the bench, he could probably be improved upon. Andy Carroll probably doesn’t have the fitness levels to feature regularly anymore and whilst he is able to provide an aerial threat, his game has become quite one dimensional due to his lack of mobility.

Perhaps most importantly, both Gayle and Carroll are out of contract at the end of the season, and with that in mind, it is likely Newcastle will be looking to bring in at least one other forward in the next couple of windows, certainly if neither of those are given new contracts. 

As a result, it may be a useful addition to bring in a striker who could go some way to providing cover and competition for the current first choices, so that in the case of injuries or a drop in form, the team does not lack too much of a threat going forward.

The Targets

Option One: Boulaye Dia

  • Nationality: Senegalese
  • Age: 24
  • Date of birth: 16/11/1996
  • Current Club: Stade de Reims
  • Career: Jura Sud, Stade de Reims
  • Position: Striker
  • Secondary Position: Right Wing
  • Preferred foot: Right
  • Contract Ends: 30/06/2022 (Summer 2022)
  • Estimated Cost: £8 000 000 – £14 000 000.

Newcastle fans are no strangers to Senegalese goalscorers and Boulaye Dia would be an excellent option to bring in as a striker in either January or (more likely) the summer. The 24 year old has been prolific in Ligue 1 for the first half of this campaign, and was also one of his side’s main sources of goals last term. He is capable of playing as a lone striker, in a strike partnership or can be deployed out wide, which would make him appealing to a side that currently lacks a bit of identity. 

Last season he played a key role in a Reims side that shocked everyone by qualifying for Europe, and they were able to do so well due to their solid defensive set up that looked to catch teams on the break. They have also been known to often use a 4-4-2 formation (especially this season), so both the defensive, counter attacking mentality and system wouldn’t be too much of a change for the striker, perhaps making his transition to life in England that little bit easier. 

With regards to style of play, Dia possesses a good burst of pace to get away from defenders and has the ability to beat opponents with the ball at his feet in order to work space for a shot. He is agile, but is able to maintain a low centre of gravity, whilst his strong build and height of 5’11 mean that he is able to physically compete. In addition to this, he has displayed a natural instinct to score goals, managing to get on the end of crosses and react first to deflections or rebounds. This anticipation is a key part of his game and allows him to be a constant threat in the opposing penalty area, whilst he is also fairly efficient in front of goal, scoring 25% of his shots in the league for Reims since the start of the 19/20 season (as I write this). 

This efficiency in possession can be found in several parts of his game, as he has been able to maintain a 77% pass completion rate and only gives the ball away through miscontrols or being dispossessed 4.4 times per90 (both of which are quite impressive stats compared to strikers across Europe and the players I included in this search). He is also a hard worker, which would be beneficial to a Newcastle side that currently spends long periods of the game defending on the back foot.

Dia has been linked with several Premier League teams including Arsenal, Brighton, West Ham and Newcastle, and it would not be surprising to see him on the move over the next couple of windows. Currently, French football is in a state of financial disarray, which may force clubs into allowing their prized assets to leave, and Dia could well be one of those. However, due to his goalscoring importance for Reims, it might be likely that they will be keen to keep ahold of him until at least the end of the season. 

Option Two: Joshua King

  • Nationality: Norwegian
  • Age: 28
  • Date of birth: 15/01/1992
  • Current Club: AFC Bournemouth
  • Career: Manchester United (Y), Preston NE (L), Borussia Mönchengladbach (L), Hull City (L), Blackburn Rovers (L), AFC Bournemouth
  • Position: Striker
  • Secondary Position: Second Striker / Left Wing
  • Preferred foot: Right
  • Contract Ends: 30/06/2021 (Summer 2021)
  • Estimated Cost: January: ?? / Summer: Free

Another player who may be of use to Newcastle could be Bournemouth’s Joshua King. The 28 year old striker has proven his worth in the Premier League, averaging just over 12 league goal contributions (G+A) a season during his five years in the Premier League with the south coast side. Thus far, he has struggled to have a massive impact for the side in the Championship, struggling with some injuries and seeing the likes of Dominic Solanke take the opportunity to nail down the striker’s position. As a result, it may be that Bournemouth are either willing to let him go in January to try and get a fee for the Norwegian, or he may be available for a free transfer in the summer due to his contract running out. 

Like Dia, King is quite versatile and could be deployed in a number of roles depending on where he is decided to be of best use. The role that Joelinton currently occupies, playing slightly deeper than Wilson, could suit King, whilst he would also be capable of providing cover and competition for former teammate Wilson. Newcastle currently have several former Bournemouth players on their books in Ryan Fraser, Callum Wilson and Matt Ritchie, and as a result, King may find it easier to settle in with his new club, or more appealing to come to Tyneside given that he would be surrounded by some familiar faces. 

Style wise, the Norwegian forward is a big physical presence, standing at 6’2 and with a very strong build, he has (and has previously demonstrated) the capability to compete physically and proves to be a handful for defenders. However, he is far from just a big traditional centre forward, and possesses impressive levels of close control that allow him to receive and hold up the ball and bring others into play. He is also able to turn and face up to his opponent before trying to work the space for a pass or shot. For such a big physical unit, King also retains a decent level of pace. 

He provides an obvious aerial presence, which can be useful at both ends of the pitch, whilst his good work rate would make him appealing to a Newcastle side that defends for long periods of time. King scored 20% of his shots on target during his last four seasons in the Premier League, and whilst he may be a little low on confidence in front of goal this season, he has proved himself to be a Premier League goalscorer. Furthemore, the striker can provide a creative threat, and his knowledge of Callum Wilson’s game and vice versa would be helpful should they rekindle their strike partnership. 

King would be an excellent signing who has proven that he can score goals at this level, whilst the Bournemouth links would ease his transition to Tyneside. A player of his quality and track record would normally command a fairly high transfer fee, so if Newcastle could pick him up at a discount in January or even better on a free in the summer, it could be an outstanding piece of business, though this would be the case for many Premier League clubs so Newcastle may face some stiff competition for his signature. 

Option Three: Gaëtan Laborde

  • Nationality: French
  • Age: 26
  • Date of birth: 03/05/1994
  • Current Club: Montpellier HSC
  • Career: Girondins de Bordeaux, Red Star (L), Brest (L), Clermont (L), Montpellier HSC
  • Position: Striker
  • Secondary Position: Right Wing / Left Wing
  • Preferred foot: Left
  • Contract Ends: 30/06/2022 (Summer 2022)
  • Estimated Cost: £8 000 000 – £12 000 000

Gaëtan Laborde is another player who could be very useful acquisition by Newcastle United. The 26 year old striker has been a fairly consistent source of goals for Montpellier since joining in the summer of 2018, proving to be a real handful for defenders and striking up a great partnership with Andy Delort, who joined the club at the same time and has also proven to be a good goalscorer. At 26, he would be an intelligent signing for Newcastle for several reasons.

The six foot forward has a strong build which would suit the Premier League well and can be deadly in the air and is capable of effectively latching onto the end of crosses to head home, whilst his intelligent movement and quick reactions allow him to get away from defenders and create space for himself and teammates. Even when Montpellier aren’t playing well, that strike partnership always seems to cause problems for opposition defences due to their energy, physicality, aggression and movement, and this is the exact type of player that would be useful to Newcastle. Laborde has consistently played in a 3-5-2 system at Montpellier, and would be more comfortable in a strike partnership, as he has shown how effective he can be when linking up with another striker.

As well as his obvious aerial ability, Laborde is capable of running with the ball at his feet and, as mentioned earlier, his energy levels are impressive which allow him to create space. The Frenchman is very strong on his left foot and is capable of finishing well, though one of his main areas for improvement is his efficiency in the final third, only managing to direct just under a third of his shots on target and in this Newcastle side he would be starved of chances at times so would need to be more clinical. However, he has also displayed his ability to create chances for his teammates, showing impressive vision and composure to pick out players in space. Since joining Montpellier, Laborde has been directly involved in 37 league goals (23G/14A) across 2 and a half seasons, displaying a good level of consistency during his time with the club.

Laborde could be a real talent for Newcastle and with French football’s current financial difficulties, the possibility of bringing him to Tyneside may seem more real. With a reported year and a half left on his current deal, and due to his importance to Montpellier, a deal would be more likely to be seen in the summer, which would coincide with the expiration of Gayle and Carroll’s contracts. 

Option Four: Carlos Fernández

  • Nationality: Spanish
  • Age: 24
  • Date of birth: 22/05/1996
  • Current Club: Sevilla
  • Career: Sevilla, Deportivo La Coruña (L), Granada CF (L) 
  • Position: Striker
  • Secondary Position: Right Wing / Attacking Midfield
  • Preferred foot: Left
  • Contract Ends: 30/06/2022 (Summer 2022)
  • Estimated Cost: Loan? / £7 000 000 – £10 000 000

A rather more under the radar signing could be that of Spanish striker Carlos Fernández. The 24 year old marksman enjoyed an impressive season out on loan at Granada last campaign (2019/20), helping to guide them to European qualification for the first time, as they registered a shock seventh place finish after winning promotion the previous year. We have written a detailed report on Fernández that you can read here, should you wish to know more about the Sevilla forward. He was a regular starter and goalscorer whilst on loan at Granada last term, but has since struggled for game time with Sevilla this campaign and as a result, may be seen as surplus requirements at his current club. 

The attacker is quite versatile, and can play as both a second striker and as the team’s main centre forward, which would allow him to provide competition for several positions within the team. One of Fernández’s key qualities is his aggression and confidence to take on opponents and not shy away from a fight. The striker is quite tall (6’1) and would likely rellish the competitive edge and physical nature that can be found in the Premier League. This can often be an issue for players arriving in the Premier League, but his eagerness to compete would ease his transition. 

In terms of provding a goal threat, Fernández is yet to prove himself as the most clinical of strikers, but he is capable of instinctive finishes and his willingness to get into dangerous areas can cause problems for the defence. Whilst at Granada, he was often deployed in a strike partnership for a team that looked to play on the break, not too dissimilar to the system currently adopted at Newcastle, so once again this would aid his transition. 

Fernández would provide energy and is a nuisance for defenders, and whilst he has yet to really stake his claim as a consistent goalscorer, he would perhaps be a bit of an unknown quantity that could spring some surprises. Furthermore, at 24, he would have plenty of time to develop further and should he hit the ground running, Newcastle could have a big talent on their hands or at the very least a very useful option off the bench if he is unable to displace any of the current strike force. 

Having watched him regularly, his ability to pick up goalscoring positions and improvise well to find the back of the net is somewhat reminiscent of former Newcastle player Ayoze Perez, and whilst Perez perhaps possesses better close control, he took a a bit of time to adjust to the physicality and aggression of the English game, which is something Fernández would relish. 

This would be a bit of an under the radar signing, and the new Brexit rules that are due to come into play in the New Year could interfere with it being a possibility (I am unfamiliar with all the technicalities). However, if Newcastle could pull it off, it would likely be a shrewd signing that could improve the depth and quality of the squad, either in January or in the Summer.

This concludes part four of this recruitment analysis series on Newcastle United. In part five we will examine potential targets for the next position: Centre Midfielders.

Stats used to conduct search courtesy of Fbref.


Thank you very much for taking the time to read part four of this ‘Recruitment Analysis’. I would be more than happy to discuss the suggestions I have put forward here, or hear any other suggestions people may have regarding Newcastle’s transfer options. Furthermore, I would be delighted to hear any feedback, positive or negative, on the piece itself and would be happy to discuss it in more detail with anyone who wishes to. You can contact me via Twitter here or via email at thomasmillman@yahoo.com. Thank you

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