Newcastle United and manager Rafa Benitez enjoyed a positive return to the top flight last season, finishing tenth in the Premier League table thanks to a strong run in the second half of the term.
In order to continue building what is in place, the summer transfer period will be a vital time to add reinforcements on Tyneside. However, that has not always been such a simple task for the Magpies.
Club owner Mike Ashley certainly has not been one to spend massive amounts on players, evidenced by the Toon’s all-time transfer record. The £17 million spent on Michael Owen in 2005 still stands as Newcastle’s most expensive addition, two years before Ashley assumed full control at St. James’ Park.
Talent is present in the team already, as we look at a predicted XI for Newcastle United in the upcoming campaign.
GK – Martin Dubravka
An easy decision to sign him permanently after an impressive loan stint, Martin Dubrvaka will be Newcastle’s number one goalkeeper in 2018-19.
The 29-year-old displayed excellent instincts and fantastic reflexes, especially on his debut against Manchester United this past February.
LB – Paul Dummett
A consistent presence at the back, Paul Dummett was a key part of a Newcastle back-line that ultimately helped to bring positive results.
Benitez trusts his abilities, and the club rewarded him with a new contract.
CB – Jamaal Lascelles
Captain Jamaal Lascelles was a critical element to success for Newcastle, and that will continue in 2018-19.
The Magpies must find a way to keep him, as several Premier League sides have been rumoured to be interested in the promising centre-back recently.
CB – Florian Lejeune
Florian Lejeune’s first match for Newcastle ended early due to injury, but he enjoyed a good run of form to finish the campaign.
Expect to see his performances in central defence improve next season.
RB – DeAndre Yedlin
DeAndre Yedlin’s pace is a true asset for Benitez’s side, and that impact is felt at both ends of the pitch.
The American international did well last season to prove himself, competing for time against the likes of Javier Manquillo and Jesus Gamez.
MF – Jonjo Shelvey
Jonjo Shelvey’s incredible passing skills can open up opposing defences, and Newcastle will be looking for more of that in 2018-19 from him.
The 26-year-old’s influence in the middle will be important moving forward.
MF – Mohamed Diame
The first half of the season was a nightmare for Mohamed Diame at Newcastle, only for the second half of the campaign to become a dream.
His tackling and stamina were impressive, although Benitez is bound to bring in others to compete for minutes also.
MF – Kenedy
Chelsea may make this difficult in terms of a transfer fee, but securing a long-term future at Newcastle for Kenedy would be a tremendous boost.
The Brazilian was superb during his loan in 2018.
CAM – Oguzhan Ozyakup
Benitez has been looking for an attacking midfielder for some time now, and could be set to add that type of player with Oguzhan Ozyakup.
If he does not arrive, expect to see Newcastle’s 2017-18 top goalscorer Ayoze Perez as a second striker or centre-forward.
MF – Matt Ritchie
With an exceptional work rate and sharp passing, Matt Ritchie has been a fantastic addition for Newcastle since signing on two years ago.
The 28-year-old is also a danger for opponents on free-kicks.
ST – Bas Dost
He’s been linked with Newcastle for several years, and now might be the time for the club to finally make the move for striker Bas Dost.
His contract with Sporting CP has been terminated, and the Dutch international would be available on a free transfer. Even if this signing is not possible, Newcastle’s top priority must be to find a productive forward to lead the front-line in 2018-19.