PLENTY has been written about Rafael Benitez’s departure from Newcastle United – not least by Lee Charnley in Sunday’s provocative programme notes – but while it is always dangerous to draw conclusions after just one match, it already looks as though the Spaniard is not the only key figure whose absence will be felt this season.

Newcastle didn’t just lose their manager this summer, they also waved goodbye to their two leading goalscorers. Time will tell, but there is every chance the trio will prove equally hard to replace.

Salomon Rondon and Ayoze Perez contributed 23 Premier League goals between them last season, more than 50 per cent of Newcastle’s seasonal total. Given that the Magpies were hardly awash with goals anyway – their tally of 42 from 38 matches made them the 16th-lowest scorers in the top-flight – losing their two most prolific forwards was always going to be a risk, albeit that in the case of Perez, their hand was forced when Leicester City triggered the Spaniard’s buyout clause.

With Rondon and Perez gone, Newcastle recruited Joelinton and Allan Saint-Maximin for a combined sum of £56.5m, and also brought in an injured Andy Carroll on deadline-day. With Carroll unlikely to be available until mid-September at the earliest, and Saint-Maximin hardly an out-and-out striker, Steve Bruce and his recruitment team appear to be gambling on one of two things. Either Joelinton comes up with the bulk of the goals that have been lost – say a minimum of at least 15 this season – or a tweak to the playing style enables the rest of the team to significantly raise their collective goals total. Either is possible; neither is guaranteed.

Joelinton’s Premier League debut was more than satisfactory, but it did not suggest the Brazilian is the kind of player whose game is built solely around goalscoring. He was excellent with his back to goal, holding up the ball neatly, laying it off to his team-mates and meeting the challenge of a physical tussle with Callum Chambers and Sokratis head on. He was not really a factor in the 18-yard box though, and rarely looked to run in behind the Arsenal centre-halves. A glanced header from a corner and a shot at Bernd Leno after a bundling run into the box were his only real threats, so while Newcastle have undoubtedly signed a striker who looks physically suited to the challenges of the Premier League, it would be a stretch to suggest he is a guarantee of goals.

“I’m quietly convinced he (Joelinton) will do very well,” said Bruce, after Sunday’s game. “The one he brought down, it only had to be a yard either side and he scores. We’ve seen enough to know that we need to go to work and properly bed the new players in. They’ll get used to the Premier League and used to their new surroundings.”

Joelinton’s game will evolve as the season goes on, but his past record does not scream of a player waiting to take the Premier League scoring charts by storm. Last season, with Hoffenheim, he scored 11 goals in 33 appearances in all competitions. The season before that, playing in the Austrian Bundesliga with Rapid Vienna, he managed seven goals in 27 league outings. Given that he does not turn 23 until Wednesday, there is clearly time for him to sharpen up his finishing. Even at this stage, though, it is safe to assume he will not be able to replace Rondon and Perez’s goals on his own.

Will his team-mates be able to chip in? That is likely to be the key question about Newcastle’s play this season, but going purely on statistics, they are going to have to take a major step forward from the totals they have been producing in the last few campaigns.

Saint-Maximin could be anything, but he only scored six Ligue 1 goals for Nice last season, having claimed three in the previous campaign. Miguel Almiron catches the eye repeatedly with his driving runs and jinking dribbles, but the Paraguayan has now made 11 appearances in English football without scoring a goal.

What about the midfielders? Jonjo Shelvey came closest to scoring at the weekend as he struck the post in the first half, but has only managed eight goals in 91 starts for the Magpies, two of which came in the same game at QPR. Isaac Hayden has scored four goals in 71 starts, Sean Longstaff, admittedly from a much smaller sample size, has two from 13.

Matt Ritchie has chipped in consistently throughout his career, whether from wing-back or midfield, but his tally of 22 goals from 126 Newcastle appearances is swelled by his efforts from the penalty spot. Jamaal Lascelles, Fabian Schar and Ciaran Clark, when he plays, are capable of offering a threat from set-pieces, but under Benitez, whose approach to corners and free-kicks was meticulous, Newcastle’s central defenders still managed a combined total of just six goals last season.

If the Magpies are going to record a ratio of even a goal-a-game this season, something is going to have to change. Bruce is keen to play a more open, expansive style than Benitez, and while there wasn’t much sign of that at the weekend, any assessment of Newcastle’s performance has to be caveated with an acknowledgement that they were playing against a team from the top six.

Saturday’s trip to Norwich will give a much better indication of how the Magpies are going to play, and whether they are capable of offering enough of an attacking threat without Rondon and Perez. “I’m confident we’ll score goals,” concluded Bruce at the weekend. Let’s see.