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Has this summer been positive or negative for Newcastle United?

Tim Krul

Newcastle United have struggled to make marquee additions to their squad, but importantly they have held onto their more established stars.

It really has been a summer of mixed emotion at Newcastle. After any other season this might have been considered even more satisfactory, but after their truly excellent fifth place finish - hopes and expectations have been quite rightly raised.

Who have they signed? Romain Amalfitano on a free, and Gael Bigirimana for £1 million. Vurnon Anita is said to be close to a £6.5 million move, and the utility man will no doubt be a solid addition, but even with his arrival the Toon's summer moves can be summed up as less than spectacular.

They were keen to sign striker Luuk de Jong from Twente, but a stubborn Steve McClaren refused to accept Newcastle's offers and sold him to Borussia Moenchengladbach instead. A move for defender Mathieu Debuchy has been mooted, but currently appears more off than on.

After a season when Newcastle, against the odds, came agonisingly close to finishing fourth - a position which in a normal season would have seen them qualify for the Champions League, supporters could be forgiven for wondering why the club have not pushed on.

Newcastle invested in January in their squad with Papiss Cisse, which saw them kick on, and many had expected the same. The one thing you can say is that the club's finances are currently run in a very healthy manner, and fans can at least take solace in that.

But despite the lack of exciting new faces, this should remain an uplifting time for supporters. For in truth the summer has been neither entirely negative or positive, and fans should simply be happy to ride the rest of the wave they are currently on.

The big success story of Newcastle's summer is that they have retained the key players in their team.

All of Cheik Tiote, Tim Krul, Fabricio Coloccini, Hatem Ben Arfa, Demba Ba and even Papiss Cisse were all linked at one point or another with moves to Tottenham, Chelsea, Liverpool, or Manchester City.

Perhaps the most surprising of all to have stayed was Demba Ba. The striker had a release clause in his contract of just £7 million, which is now believed to be expired.

The striker was strongly linked with a move to Turkey at one stage, and for Newcastle to have kept him is a real bonus, and softens any lingering disappointment at missing out on De Jong.

By keeping the spine of their team together, Newcastle have strong prospects for the season ahead. Even compared to Chelsea's spectacular summer additions, Newcastle's are proven to gel, and will remain tough to beat.

If they can get Marveaux and Obertan performing and staying fit, and Amalfitano proves to be another bargain, then Newcastle will have strong prospects for the season ahead.

Still with the African Nations Cup set to take place once again in 2013, this time in South Africa, there is definitely a need for the club to sign a new striker. Cover is also required in case one of Ba or Cisse suffers injury, and to ease the burden on the star pair with games set to arrive quickly with the Premier League and Europa League. With Leon Best sold, Newcastle's back-up striking options consist of just the Ameobi brothers.

The clubs activities over the final few weeks of the transfer window may just define their summer, and one suspects their activity is far from over.

So has this been a good or bad summer for Newcastle? Who do you still want to see brought in?

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