This article forms part of our Transfer Scenario feature series, which is where Football Transfer Tavern takes a look at a recent transfer rumour and suggests what the potential consequences would be, should a deal be completed.
Newcastle United smashed their transfer record for the second successive window when the Magpies lured TSG Hoffenheim striker Joelinton to the Premier League for £40million in July (BBC), where Miguel Almiron had been plying his trade since the winter after he left MLS franchise Atlanta United.
The Toon’s need for a revitalised front line following the departures of Ayoze Perez and Salmon Rondon also saw the North East outfit acquire OGC Nice forward Allan Saint-Maximin, but the Frenchman was not the last attacker they hoped would be coming through the door at St. James’ Park.
No, Newcastle scouted Rony Lopes on several occasions last season and now have reports on the 23-year-old in double figures as they continue to assess the Portuguese’s abilities following a summer move to Sevilla, according to the Chronicle late last week.
His lack of game time in Spain has ensured the Magpies keep a keen eye on his situation, as Steve Bruce may look to sign the forward come the New Year as injuries to Saint-Maximin and Matt Ritchie has left the Toon head coach with a depleted list of options in attack.
More recently, the Northern Echo understand Lopes is not only a candidate, either, as they suggest the former Manchester City academy player is a leading target, and that Newcastle will make a formal approach at the end of 2019 if Julen Lopetegui does not introduce the forward to his plans more so than he currently has.
Should the Magpies be successful in their efforts to sign the 23-year-old, the move would likely have some consequences for those already on Tyneside…
Almiron forced to look over his shoulder in his position
Almiron helped to kick start Newcastle’s final season under Rafa Benitez when he arrived on Tyneside from MLS franchise Atlanta United, but the Paraguay international has struggled to have the same effect on the Magpies under Bruce, and could now wreck their current campaign, in the eyes of the Sunday Mail.
The 25-year-old has enjoyed a flurry of chances to finally score his first goal in Black and White, and particularly spurned a range of glorious chances against Watford prior to the international break.
He is yet to directly create a goal, either, and more worryingly for Newcastle has only played two key passes in the Premier League this season, per data collected by WhoScored, and has been caught offside more so than any top-flight player.
If Almiron is not able to increase his influence on proceedings for the better, the arrival of a forward like Lopes, who was involved in 26 goals (17 scored, 9 assisted) in the last two Ligue 1 seasons (TransferMarkt), may see that Bruce uses the £21milllion (The Guardian) Paraguayan differently.
Bruce tries something new
The potential arrival of another wide attacking player at St. James’ Park could see that Bruce tries something new with his tactics, in the hopes of securing more favourable results in the North East than he has so far achieved.
Rather than dropping Almiron to the bench and maintaining the current course of tackling the Premier League with a three centre-half strong backline (WhoScored), the Newcastle boss may consider diverting his methods toward a four-man defence, and deploy four attackers rather than the current three.
Almiron, for one, has penned his best numbers by far when played centrally in behind the striker, with the 20-year-old achieving 83.3% of his 24 career goals and 72% of his 25 assists when serving as the attacking midfielder (TransferMarkt).
Saint-Maximin, on the other hand, has chalked his best numbers when on the wing, with a goal involvement of 14 on the right and seven on the left. The same goes for Lopes, with the two-time international netting 24 times and creating a further 16 on the right-flank, along with 14 and 13 respectively on the left.
Christian Atsu leaves St. James’ Park
If Lopes were to arrive at St. James’ Park in the winter and hit the ground running, the Portuguese’s success may be to the detriment of Christian Atsu’s Newcastle career.
The Ghanaian will have one year remaining on his current contract by the close of the campaign, and has already suggested he is in a make or break season of his career at the club (Northern Echo), as a lack of consistency has ensured he has never been first choice.
The arrival of another player to occupy a peg higher up the pecking order may see that the 27-year-old looks to leave the North East in the summer, and bring the curtain down on what Atsu concedes has been a spell of his career that has rarely seen the best of what he has to offer.
Newcastle fans, would the arrival of Lopes and a move to a four-man attack be a decision that excites you? Let us know in the comments below…Like what the TT have on offer? Sign up for more Newcastle notifications!