Newcastle United and Southampton supporters have been in high spirits in the Transfer Tavern this week after both sides secured crucial 1-0 victories over Crystal Palace and West Brom respectively in the Premier League last weekend.
Rafa Benitez’s Magpies needed a late Mikel Merino header to edge past Roy Hodgson’s Palace at St James’ Park to record their fourth league win of the campaign, and at the same time propelling them up to seventh place in the division. And that means that they are two points and three places ahead of Mauricio Pellegrino’s Saints, who also left it late to narrowly beat Tony Pulis’ West Brom at St Mary’s thanks to Sofiane Boufal’s wonderful 85th minute solo goal.
Thus, both sets of supporters have been in fine voice this week in the Tavern, and they may be further encouraged by a recent report from IBTimes UK, which suggests that both sides are keeping tabs on former Leeds United winger Alfonso Pedraza.
The 21-year-old made the move to Elland Road on loan from Villarreal at the start of the year but struggled to make a meaningful impact at the Yorkshire giants, netting just once in 14 Championship appearances for Garry Monk’s side.
However, the Spain Under-21 international has been making great strides on loan at Alaves this season and has reportedly attracted the interest of Benitez’s Newcastle and Pellegrino’s Southampton, both of whom are monitoring the young wing wizard ahead of a possible move in January.
Yet it is the South Coast where Pedraza should seek to move should both firm up their interest in the New Year, as the Saints are in need of more attacking options and he may even command more regular first team football at St Mary’s than at St James’ Park.
Ultimately, Southampton managed just 41 goals in their 38 Premier League games last term, and that coupled with a seemingly negative approach brought about the end for manager Claude Puel, who has recently taken over at Leicester City.
But things haven’t changed much so far this season either, with Pellegrino’s men managing just eight goals from their opening nine league matches, of which on only two occasions have they been able to net more than once in a match, their 3-2 success over West Ham back in August and their 2-2 draw with Newcastle earlier this month.
Nathan Redmond has struggled for form for much of the campaign while the likes of Dusan Tadic and Steven Davis have scored just one goal apiece, so there are certainly places up for grabs for someone like Pedraza to go in and grab.
The 21-year-old didn’t hit the heights at Leeds but he did show much promise on occasion – it’s just a case of honing in on that to produce that level on a more regular basis.
And that’s more likely to happen at Southampton, as Newcastle are contrastingly reasonably well stocked in the attacking department, with Christian Atsu, Ayoze Perez, and Matt Ritchie all starting the season strongly, while summer signing Jacob Murphy clearly has promise and could be an important player for his hometown club for many years to come.
Ultimately, Pedraza must look at Southampton as a better long-term option, as not only has the football club been more stable than Newcastle over the last five years or so, but their record of giving young players a chance is unparalleled.
A potential takeover at St James’ Park could be great news for the Magpies, but it could also be bad news as well for those young players trying to force their way into first team reckoning, especially if Benitez does indeed get the reported big sums of money to go out and bolster his ranks.
Arguably, the Spaniard would have more opportunities to develop as a player at St Mary’s, and given that he is only 21 and his last spell in England wasn’t hugely successful, Southampton could be the perfect club for the winger.
Newcastle and Southampton fans… what do you make of the news? Let us know!