Newcastle United supporters have been somewhat upbeat in the Transfer Tavern this week after seeing their side kick off 2018 with back-to-back wins over Stoke City and Luton Town, thus helping to lift the gloom around St James’ Park.
Rafa Benitez’s men went into the New Year a point and two places above the Premier League’s bottom three, but put some distance between themselves and the relegation zone courtesy of a 1-0 success at Stoke on January 2. And the Magpies picked up another victory son after by easing past League Two leaders Luton 3-1 at St James’ Park in the third round of the FA Cup, with a brace from Ayoze Perez as well as a Jonjo Shelvey strike securing a last 32 clash at either Norwich City or Premier League champions Chelsea.
Subsequently, there have been a few more positive Newcastle fans in the Tavern this week, several of whom are hoping that their team’s fine start to the year can be a springboard for further success as the season wears on.
In the meantime though, there has been much for our resident Magpies fans to get their teeth into, not least recent reports linking them with a move for West Ham striker Diafra Sakho.
The 28-year-old has not started a Premier League game this season under both Slaven Bilic and David Moyes, thus highlighting his lowly position in the pecking order at the London Stadium.
And Newcastle, as well as Crystal Palace, were reportedly keen on the Senegal international, but with Palace having reportedly agreed a deal with Sakho, the Magpies must now forget about a move for the 28-year-old, and instead focus their efforts on luring Kelechi Iheanacho away from Leicester City.
The 21-year-old has found things tricky at the King Power Stadium since his move from Manchester City during the summer, but it’s clear from his time at the Etihad Stadium that he could be the sort of striker Newcastle need to avoid the drop this season.
Ultimately, the Nigeria international scored 21 goals in just 64 appearances for the Citizens, and given that many of those appearances were from the bench, it equates to a rate of a goal every 101 minutes.
That is a seriously impressive strike-rate, and the sort Newcastle would love to have in their goal-shy attack, given they’ve managed a paltry 20 goals in their 22 Premier League games thus far, a tally which simply must be improved if they are to preserve their top-flight status.
And Iheanacho could make a huge difference on Tyneside.
The 21-year-old is a natural finisher but can also hold the ball up well and has the pace to get at and get away from defences, all of which sound tailor-made to getting the very best out of Matt Ritchie, who would surely improve upon five assists from 36 chances created were Iheanacho at the football club.
Ultimately, there were times earlier in the season where Joselu missed glaring opportunities, chances that Iheanacho is more often than not going to tuck away. Creating chances isn’t a huge issue for Benitez’s side either, having created the tenth most so far this term, but their conversion rate is only bettered by all but one side (Southampton) in that top ten.
Clearly, the current forward options aren’t going to cut it, and while Sakho has also had some success in the Premier League with 18 goals in 62 games, he arguably offers less all round than Iheanacho, and at seven years older than the Leicester man, he’s hardly a long-term purchase.
As such, with Palace closing on Sakho, Newcastle must forget about the 28-year-old and instead all their efforts on landing £13.5 million-rated Iheanacho (as per Transfermarkt) this month.
Newcastle fans… what do you think? Let us know!
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