WITH Newcastle United having all-but-guaranteed their Premier League survival after reaching the 36-point mark, thoughts are beginning to turn to the summer.

The club’s ownership situation means there is a fair amount of uncertainty about what might happen in the next few months, but assuming Steve Bruce remains in charge, what should his priorities be ahead of the start of next season?


Resolving Joe Willock’s future will be at the top of Bruce’s in-tray as he heads into the close season. The 21-year-old has had a major impact since joining on loan, with his three last-gasp goals as a substitute playing a major role in Newcastle’s survival push. It remains to be seen whether Arsenal will be prepared to sell him, but the noises emanating from the Emirates suggest Mikel Arteta does not see the England Under-21 international playing a central role in his future plans. As a result, a deal might well be possible.

Will Mike Ashley agree to meet Arsenal’s asking price, which is likely to be in excess of £20m? Newcastle’s transfer budget will be limited, but there should be scope to make one big-money signing. Given that Willock is a tried-and-tested option, it will be worth pushing the boat out to keep him.


The whispering about Allan Saint-Maximin’s future has already started. The Frenchman has been in sparkling form since returning from injury, and Bruce admits he would be surprised if some of the leading Premier League sides were not sizing up potential approaches for the 24-year-old. Arsenal have long been linked with a move, while Liverpool have also been touted as possible suitors in the last few days.

If they are going to look to build next season, it is imperative Newcastle retain Saint-Maximin. With a contract to 2026, the forward will only leave if the Magpies hierarchy decide to cash in. No matter what sum is offered, they will find it impossible to replace Saint-Maximin’s creativity and attacking threat.


For all that Bruce has had to shuffle players around this season, Newcastle’s first-team squad remains bloated. The transfer window will provide an opportunity to trim some of the fat and divert wage payments to areas where they will be more useful. Christian Atsu and Henri Saivet will finally leave as free agents, while there is very little chance of Andy Carroll being offered another deal. Jacob Murphy’s recent performances might well have earned him a new contract, but the time has surely come to sever ties with Dwight Gayle.

Beyond that, might Bruce be tempted to cash in on any of his contracted players? He was willing to sell Matt Ritchie in January, so that deal might be resurrected. The Longstaff brothers remain saleable assets, and given their lack of game-time, might Bruce be willing to sell if offers arrive?


When Callum Wilson was unavailable because of injury, Newcastle’s centre-forward threat all-but-disappeared. Joelinton has shown some signs of improvement, but assuming Gayle and Carroll depart, the Magpies will still be short of options in the final third. They have to sign a striker who is capable of pushing Wilson for a starting spot and deputising for Newcastle’s leading scorer if he is unavailable. As they have discovered in the past, though, recruiting a proven centre-forward is easier said than done.

With domestic players likely to command a premium, the Magpies will be tempted to look abroad. The logistical difficulties of scouting and recruiting overseas players while Covid restrictions remain in place are significant though, so Bruce might have to think creatively.


This is the toughest task facing the Newcastle boss this summer. Assuming he remains in place, he will have to try to repair his fractured relationship with the club’s supporters. Hopefully, next season will see the return of full houses, but while that should be a major positive, it has the potential to create a fractious atmosphere if Bruce does not start re-engaging with the fans who have turned against him this term.

At the moment, there is a sense that neither Bruce nor those around him have a proper grasp of just how bad things have become. They need to wake up quickly.