Newcastle United could sign their next Alan Shearer with £80m dream transfer this summer

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There is one target Newcastle United could move for to resolve their issues at the top end of the pitch

There have been some suggestions Newcastle United’s squad will be subjected to something of an overhaul as the Magpies look to move on from what could be considered to be an underwhelming season.

Just 12 months ago, Eddie Howe’s side were in the midst of a five-game winning run that laid the foundations for what would become a successful push for a top four place as the Magpies saw off the likes of Liverpool, Chelsea and Spurs to land a place in this season’s Champions League. Fast forward to the present and we find a Magpies squad that has failed to reach the levels of intensity and consistency that became the hallmarks of their shock bid to take a place amongst the elite of European football.

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Big decisions lie in wait across Howe’s current ranks as several long-serving players approach the final months of their contracts, while others near the natural end of their time at St. James' Park. The coming months will say a lot about the next steps in United’s development under the ownership of a PIF-led consortium as they look to become regular contenders for a place in the Champions League and for major honours.

Some uncomfortable calls will have to be made in several key positions - not least at the top end of the pitch where Howe has been limited to going into a hectic schedule with just Alexander Isak and Callum Wilson as recognised strikers. His cause has hardly been helped by both players suffering injuries throughout the season and if, and it remains if, United are to force their way back amongst the league’s elite next season, at least one top class frontman must be brought in during the summer.

Top strikers are few and far-between and they will not come cheaply or without competition from several other clubs looking to resolve their own issues in the attacking third. Magpies scouts have been taking in games across European football’s top divisions and the United hierarchy are still formulating a list of possible targets ahead of what is sure to be a hectic summer of activity at St. James' Park.

Ambition should not be in question and that is why the Magpies top brass must do all they can to ensure Howe is able to call upon a wider range of quality forwards when the next season gets underway in August. There is believed to be a preference for players with experience of English football and with room to grow and develop during their time at St. James' Park - and that could point towards one striker in stunning form this season.

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After struggling to make a breakthrough at Brighton, Viktor Gyokeres quickly established himself as a potent striker during his time with Coventry City as he plundered his way to 43 goals and 17 assists in 116 appearances for the Championship club. His form in front of goal captured the interest of several interested parties but it was Portuguese giants Sporting CP that won the race for his services with a £17m during the summer transfer window.

For all of Gyokeres’ obvious talents, it would be safe to suggest few could have foreseen the impact he has made in Lisbon as his side push for success in the Primeira Liga, Europa League and Taca de Portugal. Ahead of Thursday night’s Europa League round-of-16 second leg meeting with Serie A club Atalanta, Gyokeres has scored 33 goals and provided 12 assists in 37 appearances in all competitions and that has once again ensured scouts from some of European football’s biggest clubs have been regular visitors to the Estadio Jose Alvalade.

Of course, some naysayers would suggest the ‘step up’ from the Portuguese league to the Premier League would be a challenge for a striker that failed to make a Premier League appearance during his time at Brighton. However, an analysis of his physical stats and on-field output seem to show the Sweden international is ready-made to make an impact in English football’s top tier.

At 6ft 2, the physical side of the game will not be an issue. Nor would settling in on Tyneside given Gyokeres would be likely to find international team-mates Alexander Isak and Emil Krafth in the home dressing room at St. James' Park. Comparing Gyokeres to Isak, Wilson and the man many consider to be the best striker in the Premier League, Manchester City star Erling Haaland, provides some interesting reading.

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The Sporting striker rates above his potential team-mates in terms of average shots taken per game and above Haaland in his percentage of shots on target. He has also completed more passes and a higher pass completion rate than all three and has created more opportunities for team-mates with an average of 4.5 per game.

Sporting Lisbon and Sweden's Viktor GyokeresSporting Lisbon and Sweden's Viktor Gyokeres
Sporting Lisbon and Sweden's Viktor Gyokeres | AFP via Getty Images

Even more intriguingly, Gyokeres is able to press effectively as Eddie Howe demands from his forward players and would go some way to allowing the Magpies boss to rediscover the intensity that has been missing from his side for the majority of the season. Gyokeres has averaged made more challenges, successful tackles and blocks than Wilson, Isak and Haaland and has enjoyed more successful take-ons and ball carries.

Of course, we have to take into consideration he is not facing Premier League quality defenders week-in, week-out, but the stats shows he possesses the qualities needed to lead the Magpies line next season and provide serious competition.

The major issue, as it always seems to be with Newcastle, will come with the fee demanded by Sporting and the Magpies ability to meet such a cost given their ongoing battle with the Premier League’s profit and sustainability regulations and FIFA’s Financial Fair Play rules. It seems likely Sporting would require a fee of around £80m before a sale would be considered - but if United could find some wiggle room in their finances, they could make a smart addition by winning the race for Gyokeres.

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