Newcastle United players, along with Eddie Howe and the coaching staff, were back in training this week as they kickstarted their pre-season ahead of the 2022-23 Premier League campaign. The Magpies play their first game against Gateshead this weekend in a behind-the-door friendly where they will be looking to gain some much-needed match fitness.
While pre-season is essential for every player, few of Newcastle United's players will be looking forward to it in order to establish themselves in the good books of Eddie Howe. The 2022-23 season will be the former Bournemouth manager's first full season at the Tyneside club.
Here, we take a look at the three players who will be expecting to impress their manager this month.
3. Miguel Almiron
The 28-year old Paraguay international, who was signed in 2019 for a then-club-record fee, has been quite underwhelming for the club barring a few moments of magic. Having played over 100 games across competitions for the club, he has managed to register only 14 goals and five assists to his name.
His lack of goals and assists is partly down to the fact that he never played in his preferred role as a No. 10, and Newcastle's lack of attacking intent. His failure to improve his weaker foot made it easy for the Premier League defenders to defend against him.
Despite impressing with his workrate on the pitch, his decision-making in the final third has let him down greatly and he has failed to live up to the hype created during his transfer. With Ryan Fraser and Allan Saint-Maximin already in the squad and a new winger likely to be signed, Almiron finds himself down the pecking order of wingers.
This could be a make-or-break season for Almiron as another failure could result in him being shown the exit. However, Newcastle United fans could take some positives from the end of last season as Almiron filled the void left by the injured Ryan Fraser and linked up pretty well with January signing Bruno Guimaraes.
With Eddie Howe preferring to control the game and see more of the ball, Newcastle United's attackers will be hoping to improve their numbers and Almiron will be one of them. If he manages to improve his decision-making in the final third and his composure, he will surely be one to watch out for this season.
From being Newcastle United's most expensive flop to becoming their 'Player of the Year', Joelinton had an incredible season last year. The Brazilian, who was signed for a hefty fee from Hoffenheim three years ago, struggled to settle at Newcastle United and playing as a lone striker never helped him.
With Callum Wilson's arrival in 2020, Joelinton was pushed wide to the wings and eventually to the bench. Joelinton struggled with confidence whenever he received the ball in the final third and failed to prove his worth in the first two seasons. In 80 appearances in the first two seasons, he scored 10 goals and provided seven assists.
However, a red card to a teammate turned out to be a blessing in disguise for Joelinton. When Ciaran Clark was sent off against Norwich City last season, Joelinton was pushed into midfield as part of tactical changes and this brought out the best version of Joelinton in black and white stripes.
Joelinton impressed Eddie Howe so much that he continued to use him in midfield alongside Jonjo Shelvey and fellow Brazilian Bruno Guimaraes. Joelinton's tackles and interceptions in particular were top class for someone playing his first few games as a central midfielder. He averaged one interception and over two tackles per game (via SofaScore).
Having made the transition to a midfielder, Joelinton will be looking to improve his attacking role in the game and settle in as a proper box-to-box midfielder this season. He showed glimpses of what he could offer going forward by making those lung-bursting runs from midfield and accurate through passes last season.
With a full pre-season as a midfielder, Newcastle United fans will be hoping that he improves further and comes into the picture of Brazilian national team selection.
1. Allan Saint-Maximin
Newcastle United's fan favorite French winger Saint-Maximin went through a mixed season last year. While the transition from one system to another is tough for any player, it's even more difficult for players with flair like Saint-Maximin to switch from a free role to get used to a proper tactical setup focusing on basics.
Under Steve Bruce, he enjoyed a free role where every attack went through him and he was never expected to track back during defensive transitions. While he entertained the fans with his flashy skill moves down the wing, his unpredictability was also a problem for his teammates.
During his first two seasons at Tyneside, Saint-Maximin quickly became a fan favorite due to his impressive dribbling skills and ability to dance his way past the defenders. But his end product was a thing of concern, which was partly due to the lack of attacking threat in Steve Bruce's system and also due to his inability to release the ball at the right time in the final third.
As games went by, teams started to double up on him while defending and with the lack of support around him under Bruce, his numbers never improved. However, with Eddie Howe coming in, a proper system was established in which Saint-Maximin was not the only source of attack. While this improved the team's performance as a whole, Saint-Maximin's passing and defensive workrate were exposed.
However, towards the end of last season, Eddie Howe wanted the French winger to keep things simple and mix it up a bit instead of trying to take on the defender every time. Saint-Maximin noticeably started trying to drop back in defense and help Matty Targett when required.
Saint-Maximin ended the season with five goals and assists each in 35 league appearances. He will look to improve those numbers in the upcoming season.
The real challenge for Saint-Maximin this season will be to improve his goal contribution by making the right decisions in the final third and looking to spot a teammate in space instead of going for a dribble every time. If he also manages to stay fit and track back during defensive transitions, he will become a key part of Eddie Howe's Newcastle United, who are on for a successful future.