Newcastle United supporters in the Transfer Tavern are relishing the remainder of the summer transfer window, as their team seek the reinforcements that could turn them into European contenders next season.
Rafa Benitez’s men deserve enormous credit for securing a tenth place finish upon their return to the Premier League this term, having won the Championship title little over 12 months earlier. Yet for the Magpies to push on again next season under the Spaniard, it’s evident from their limitations this time round that signings are needed over the summer in a bid to take the North East giants back to their previous lofty heights.
And one man they have been linked with in recent times is former Liverpool defender Martin Skrtel, who was signed by Benitez back in 2008 while the 58-year-old was in charge at Anfield.
Yet the Newcastle chief should seriously think twice about a summer reunion with the £2.7 million-rated star (as per Transfermarkt), as it’s difficult to make a case for him being any better than the current crop of centre backs at St James’ Park.
Ultimately, one mustn’t forget how influential the 33-year-old was during his eight-year spell at Liverpool, with Skrtel earning 320 appearances for the Reds during his time on Merseyside, helping them win the League Cup back in 2012.
Yes, he wasn’t always convincing in the heart of the Liverpool backline, but the Slovakia international on the whole did a fine job in defence at Anfield, and as such would likely be a useful addition to Benitez’s squad at Newcastle.
However, Benitez’s side were one of the better teams defensively in the Premier League last season, with the Magpies shipping just 47 goals in their 38 league games, fewer than any side that finished outside of the division’s top seven.
Thus, whatever, specifically whoever, they had at the back last season did a great job in helping Newcastle retain their top-flight status, most notably captain Jamaal Lascelles, who played as big a part as any in keeping the club in the Premier League.
But the efforts of Florian Lejeune and Ciaran Clark must also be commended, and while neither have necessarily nailed down the spot next to Lascelles at the back, both were solid and dependable options for Benitez throughout the campaign – arguably, they are more reliable than 33-year-old Skrtel.
As such, while Skrtel’s arrival would bring a great deal of experience to the Magpies backline, it’s difficult to see him forcing his way into the first team on a regular basis. And with Newcastle surely eyeing up additions that can improve the starting eleven, they have to show more ambition than 33-year-old Skrtel.
Thus, Benitez should seriously think twice about making a move for the Slovakian star this summer.
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