Paul Merson has set out what he believes Newcastle United have to do to become a regular challenger for major honours over the coming years.
The Magpies are enjoying their most productive season for over two decades after reaching their Carabao Cup Final and challenging for a return to European competition after an absence of just over a decade.
That is all a far cry from the situation at St James Park when a PIF-led consortium finally brought down the curtain of Mike Ashley’s ownership in October 2021 and appointed Eddie Howe as successor to former manager Steve Bruce just over a month later.
The hard work of Howe and his coaching staff, coupled with the signings of the likes of Bruno Guimaraes and Kieran Trippier, helped United preserve their Premier League status after spending a large part of the 2021/22 season battling against relegation.
Despite media speculation linking the likes of Eden Hazard, Paulo Dybala and Gareth Bale with a move to Tyneside, United opted to look at players that are yet to reach their peak after completing the signings of Lille’s highly-rated defender Sven Botman, Real Sociedad striker Alexander Isak and Everton winger Anthony Gordon.
Big challenges lie in wait as Howe looks to deliver on the ambitious plans of the Magpies owners and challenge the likes of Manchester City, Liverpool and Manchester United for major honours at home and abroad.
Speaking to SportKeeda, former Arsenal and Middlesbrough star Merson believes the Magpies must bring in ‘a handful of top-quality players’ during the summer transfer window - but warned against making a move for any player that is approaching the end of his career.
He said: “They are already in the running to secure a place in the top four, but with two wins, they can really put themselves in the thick of the action. The aim of Newcastle’s project is to win stuff and while they’ve had a good start, I think they should go out this summer and sign a handful of top-quality players.
“Liverpool and Chelsea have had nightmare seasons this time around, but that’s unlikely to happen in the 2023-24 campaign, so the Magpies need to recruit bigger and better players to compete for major honours. The Eden Hazards and the Neymars won’t really help move their project along – they are at that stage of their careers where they’re not going to help you win anything.”