With Champions League qualification secured, here are the challenges ahead for Newcastle in 2023-24.
A goalless draw against Leicester tonight (May 22) was enough for Newcastle to secure a place in next season’s Champions League.
Eddie Howe’s Magpies, however, have not played in the Champions League since being knocked out on penalties by Partizan Belgrade in 2003-04, so this will be an unknown adventure for the club and many young fans.
Therefore, Howe and Newcastle as a whole will have various challenges to ponder over the off-season in preparation for a potential tilt at the Champions League title, so here are some of the challenges ahead for the Magpies this summer.
European goalkeeper experience
With next season set to mark Newcastle’s return to the Europa League since 2012-13, as well as their first Champions League adventure since 2002-03, it would be fair to reflect on their lack of goalkeeping experience at UEFA level.
Nick Pope (pictured) is currently Newcastle’s first-choice goalkeeper and will remain so next season, but the former Burnley keeper has just one European cap to his name, which came in 2018-19 while at the Clarets, so he may be slightly be of concern. if Newcastle find themselves in a difficult group.
Martin Dubravka and Loris Karius both boast 64 appearances in UEFA competitions, but Dubravka looks out of favor while Karius is out of contract at the end of this season, meaning at least one, if not both, could leave on a free transfer. agent.
Although Dubravka has the better record with 39 appearances in all UEFA competitions compared to Karius’s 25, it is Karius who knows how to help a team go deep into the Champions League; Helped Liverpool to runners-up. 2017-18
Meanwhile, Karl Darlow and Mark Gillespie look nothing like the Pope, underscoring the general lack of European experience in Newcastle’s goalkeeping apart from Dubravka and Karius.
We also can’t ignore the fact that Newcastle’s goalkeepers have an average age of 31.25, which is a small positive in terms of experience, though not in terms of UEFA competition experience, as some Champions League teams currently have top goalkeepers on average. 20s
With that in mind, this summer could be the right window to recruit a young goalkeeper with strong European experience, but with an eye on developing him into a top-tier goalkeeper as Pope begins to approach the end of his career as a first-choice goalkeeper.
However, there is a short-term option of recruiting someone like Keylor Navas, who can fill a similar role to Karius, but bring strong European experience to the team while providing fresh competition for Pope and Dubravka or Karius, if one of those two is likely to stay. club
Meanwhile, Gillespie and Darlow could be moved to free up transfer funds as I just don’t see them getting anywhere in the first team at the moment, so may as well leave to pursue first team action elsewhere, with Gillespie out left. contract this summer anyway.
Therefore, serious questions have to be asked of Howe and his team this summer regarding their goaltending composition, and particularly their long-term plans in that area of the team, given the average age and other factors.
Complimenting the selection of a recognized striker
While goalkeeping is a big issue, Howe should not be fooled up front as they lack a suitable experienced European striker despite having a solid selection of strikers who have scored eight goals in 45 games between them.
It’s worth noting that those eight goals came from Alexandre Isak, Alan St-Maximin and Joelinton in 44 appearances between them, while Anthony Gordon has one European cap and Callum Wilson (pictured) is yet to play in any UEFA competition for the club. level
As much as I personally expect that top five to be a key part of Newcastle’s campaign in every way next season, there is certainly another recognized experienced striker on the European stage to compliment Issac and Wilson, who the latter will need to adapt to. good for the Champions League.
While looking for someone like Vinicius Junior or Victor Osihen seems unlikely as they want to focus mainly on long-term transfer deals, someone like Sadio Mane could be a medium-term target given his strong Premier League and European experience.
Meanwhile, Union Saint-Gilloise’s Victor Boniface would be an ideal long-term target and has a strong European record at the age of just 22, with 13 goals in 22 appearances, including five in four Champions League games, while previously at Bodø/Glimt in Norway. : this season.
Although Howie and Newcastle’s recruitment team should have some interesting transfer plans this summer to ensure the squad is ready to challenge for the four competitions next season.
A solid group opportunity
Having not played any European football for a decade and not appearing in the Champions League for two decades, Newcastle have no UEFA club coefficient points, which are based on the club’s participation in UEFA competitions in the last five seasons.
Howe’s Magpies will therefore use the FA’s odds of 21,628 points for next season’s Group Stage draw, which is likely to only be good enough for Pot 4;
That, in turn, makes it highly likely that Newcastle will face a tough group with the likes of Napoli, Real Madrid, Feyenoord and possibly even Celtic, although the potential clash won’t be any simpler for one pot. until other European leagues finish their campaign.
In any case, Newcastle should not expect an easy return to the European stage as they will have to fight hard given that a tough group is almost certain, but the Group of Death could make their return to the Champions League even tougher. .
However, there is one positive in terms of the schedule, as the Champions League games are played on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, so they will not have to settle for the Saturday-Thursday-Sunday schedule for most of next season, which many English teams have struggled to cope with. .