Newcastle United: Picking a Potential Starting Lineup for Next Season
Bearing in mind that Newcastle will be looking to bolster their squad in this summer window in order to ready themselves for European competition, I'm going to take you through a possible starting lineup the Toon could be successful with next season.
GK: Tim Krul
To no one's surprise, we have Tim Krul opening the XI between the sticks.
And all the better for Newcastle really, because Krul is one of the Premier League's better up-and-coming keepers, and his clutch play has been invaluable for the Toon this season.
LB: Erik Pieters
Once the summer transfer window opens, PSV Eindhooven left-back Erik Pieters will likely be on his way to St. James' Park.
Not only are rumours about his eventual arrival heating up, but Pieters has already come out in support of the Magpies and his Dutch compatriot Tim Krul.
With the possible departure of Danny Simpson due to a stall in long-term contract discussions, Pieters' arrival could move Italian starlet Davide Santon to the right to replace Simpson.
CB: Fabricio Coloccini
Along with Tim Krul, it was Captain Colo who also signed a new contract earlier this year, which will keep him on Tyneside until 2016.
As the leader and centre-piece of this Newcastle team, Coloccini's presence will be essential if Newcastle are to continue their unexpected success into next season.
Another rumoured signing is that of Brazlian centre-back Douglas Teixeira, who has garnered interest from multiple Premier League clubs.
If signed, the 6'4" centre-back would likely start the season ahead of Steven Taylor, who would have only just returned from the injury that kept him out of the bulk of the 2011-12 season.
Douglas would be perfect to bulk up the defence, which has really been the only weak part of the Toon this season.
A pairing of Coloccini and Douglas in the centre of defence could be dominant, to say the least.
RB: Davide Santon
This season's first choice left-back Davide Santon is expected to make leaps and bounds in his second season in England, after initially struggling to cope with his new surroundings.
Hailed as the "heir to Maldini" by Marcelo Lippi, Santon has shown hints of his talent towards the end of this season, and his improvements moving forward could mirror those made by Jose Enrique following a poor first season at the club.
The potential arrival of Erik Pieters at left-back would likely have the effect of moving Santon to the right of defence - a position he is also comfortable playing.
LM: Jonas Gutierrez
Having played in all but one game in the Premier League for Newcastle this season, Jonas Gutierrez should be expected to appear in Alan Pardew's starting XI just as often in 2012-13.
The Argentine midfielder appears to have a new-found versatility, featuring not only as a winger for Pardew, but as a defender as well.
"Spiderman" has been steadily improving since joining the club in 2008, and has established himself as a fan favourite on Tyneside.
CM: Cheik Tiote
As one of the more physical players in the Premier League, Cheik Tiote has really made a name for himself since joining Newcastle prior to last season.
Transfer rumours have linked the Ivorian away from the club, but Tiote himself has spoken out about wanting to be back next season.
Tiote really is the rock in midfield for the Magpies, and despite not getting the media coverage of a player like Papiss Cisse or Hatem Ben Arfa, he may just be their very best player.
RM: Yohan Cabaye
Yohan Cabaye is just one of many fantastic signings Newcastle made this season, and he's probably the most underrated of them all as well.
Costing the Toon a modest fee of only £4.3 million, Cabaye has been instrumental to the Newcastle attack, and has been rewarded with a place in Laurent Blanc's provisional French team for Euro 2012.
Pardew would be crazy to let the midfielder go in the summer, especially considering he's one of the few players on the Newcastle team with Champions League experience—something that will be called upon greatly if EPL results go their way this Sunday.
LW: Adam Johnson
This is likely the most controversial pick of the starting XI, solely because the name you just read is not Demba Ba.
The thing is, as a natural winger, Adam Johnson of Manchester City would simply fit into Ba's spot on the left wing much better than Ba himself, and considering the scoring rate of Papiss Cisse, Ba wouldn't necessarily be needed for his goalscoring.
Of course, the best case scenario for Newcastle would be for Alan Pardew to find a way to fit both Ba and Cisse in his lineup as out-and-out strikers, but if not, a team may well make use of Ba's reported release clause.
This in turn would provide Newcastle with the funding to prise Johnson—a boyhood Newcastle fan—from City's grasp.
Johnson will more than likely be available in the summer, but signing him depends mainly on whether or not Newcastle will be able to offer him a starting role—something that will likely only open up with Ba out of the picture.
CF: Papiss Cisse
Papiss Cisse has been one of the better strikers in world football since signing for Newcastle in January, and all signs point to him remaining as the focal point of the Newcastle attack once again next season.
With 13 goals in 13 games, Cisse has been worth every penny of the £10 million that the Magpies reportedly spent on him in January, and considering the huge investment they made in him, it's hard to picture him leaving the club.
RW: Hatem Ben Arfa
On the right wing, we have Hatem Ben Arfa, who is one of the more creative players in the Premier League.
Initially omitted from Alan Pardew's lineup for the first half of this season due to his rather erratic play, Ben Arfa has played some of the best football of his career since finally being given his chance by the Newcastle manager.
Even in games they are struggling in, Newcastle can call upon Ben Arfa to make something out of nothing to put the Toon ahead in a game, and this trait makes him an essential part of the starting XI next season.
Though I'm sure you picked it up from the rest of the article, here's the likely formation just to illustrate Pardew's potential starting XI.
It's essentially the same formation that Pardew's been using for the most part since bringing in Papiss Cisse, but in this case, we'd have an actual winger out on the left rather than a natural striker.
GK - Rob Elliot
LB - Ryan Taylor
CB - Steven Taylor
RB - James Perch
LM - Sylvain Marveaux
LW - Juan Pablo Pino
ST - Bas Dost
As a manager who likes versatile players, Alan Pardew will likely opt for the likes of Ryan Taylor and James Perch as his leading options in both defence and midfield, with Steven Taylor joining them as he is slowly brought back into the team following his injury.
Another recovering player on the bench would be Frenchman Sylvain Marveaux, who has only recently returned from a hip injury.
Closing out the bench would be potential new signings Juan Pablio Pino and Bas Dost. Pino is a winger from Galatasaray with the ability to play as a striker if need be, and Dost is a prolific scorer from Heerenveen who has been dominating the Eredivisie over the last few years.