Five players Eddie Howe desperately needs at Newcastle despite PSR pressure

Harry De Cosemo
Isak, Guimaraes and Gordon among Newcastle players they should keep.
Isak, Guimaraes and Gordon among Newcastle players they should keep.

Failure to qualify for Europe this season has added a lot of pressure on Newcastle United when it comes to potential exits this summer, in two ways.

First, they are a club that needs as much revenue as possible to continue the growth to satisfy the ambition of their Saudi Arabian-backed ownership.

Secondly, they need to satisfy the ambitions of some of their better players, with the futures of midfielder Bruno Guimaraes, who has a £100m release clause in his contract, and striker Alexander Isak under increasing scrutiny.

But there is no need to sell. Eddie Howe will want to keep both, and others, if Newcastle are to progress this season. So, here are five players he should build around. Oh and here are the five players they should discard


Alexander Isak

Isak is the first player to score more than 20 Premier League goals for Newcastle since Alan Shearer in 2003/04, and he ended this season with the second best minutes-per-goal ratio in the division (108, only behind Erling Haaland’s 95). But for Newcastle, he is much more than just a prolific goalscorer; he takes the team to a completely different level.

Were it not for injuries – he’s struggled in both seasons he has been on Tyneside – his goal record, and Newcastle’s league position, may be a lot better. His technique, flair and unpredictability mean he is the envy of a lot of clubs, but the Magpies know his value.

Replacing him in this market is all but impossible, there just aren’t sufficient options out there, let alone options willing to join a team outside the Champions League. Howe has a gem here – somebody who can fire Newcastle to the very top. If he stays fit, he just might.

Bruno Guimaraes

If Isak is Newcastle’s spark, Bruno Guimaraes is their constant. The Brazilian is the heartbeat of the team on the pitch, both stylistically and positionally, but also in terms of his personality. Few players wear their heart on their sleeve like him, and that endears him to the Newcastle fans as much as his ability.

To understand Guimaraes’ importance at Newcastle, you need only look at the stats. They are stark: since joining from Lyon in January 2022, the club has not won when he hasn’t played and they’ve won every time he has scored. This season, he played 50 of 51 games.

The release clause has been inserted into his contract to protect Newcastle as much as him; if he goes, before the Profit and Sustainability deadline of June 30 – incidentally when the clause expires – Newcastle can dig deep into their vast wealth.

But finding a player who can replicate everything Guimaraes does would be a thankless task.

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Anthony Gordon

Both Guimaraes and Isak generated real excitement among the Newcastle fanbase upon their arrivals, but the same cannot be said for Anthony Gordon. When he joined from Everton in a £45m deal in January 2022, eyebrows were raised. His attitude and consistency were questioned, and those doubts only grew in a difficult first six months at the club.

Gordon was the first to admit he had struggled to match Howe’s extremely high standards, but since winning Player of the Tournament at the Under-21 European Championships last summer as England lifted the trophy, he hasn’t looked back.

This season he has become the first player to reach double figures for goals and assists for Newcastle since Ruel Fox 29 years ago, becoming a talismanic figure and playing himself into contention for England at the senior Euros this summer. At 23, like Isak, he will only get better: a frightening prospect.


Everyone knows the story of Joelinton’s transformation from failing striker to midfield destroyer in late 2021, but the most impressive thing about the Brazilian is how quickly he shook off the suggestion he could be considered a novelty.

His performances since have made a mockery of the fact he was ever doubted as a footballer; everybody misunderstood him, not least Steve Bruce, who consistently flung him up front as nothing more than a target man and hung him out to dry.

Of course, he needed to take responsibility for the disaster of his opening gambit at Newcastle, but now the team struggles to function without him. At their best, Newcastle are an energetic, nasty, snarling powerhouse – everything Joelinton is. He played just 20 Premier League games this season, 12 fewer than last; that goes some way to explaining Newcastle’s decline.

Tino Livramento

Livramento’s name may be the most controversial on this list because Kieran Tripper exists; the England international has been Newcastle’s on-pitch captain for much of his time at the club and has set the standard too.

But next season, he’ll be 34, and some high-profile mistakes have shown a drop-off in his incredible levels of consistency. Livramento was something of an opportunistic signing after Southampton’s relegation last summer, a succession plan for Trippier. But he has adjusted to life at Newcastle with consummate ease and looks ready for the changing of the guard now, even though Trippier still has plenty to offer too. That is the kind of headache Howe should welcome.