Following a dismal display at Swansea, the rumoured transfer of Florian Thauvin has left fans scratching their heads asking why defenders are not the priority.
The 22-year-old winger is set to swap Marseille for Tyneside in a £12 million deal that would see Remy Cabella going back to France on a one-year loan, with an option to purchase, according to reports in L’Equipe.
Newcastle have signed one defender, centre-back Chancel Mbemba, and three attacking players (Strikers Aleksandar Mitrović, Ivan Toney and midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum) so far this summer.
Whilst there is no doubt that Thauvin will be a quality signing, it’s clear from Saturday’s 2-0 defeat to Swansea that the constant defensive frailties displayed for much of 2015 is still not being addressed.
Right-back Daryl Janmaat’s dismissal for two needless yellow cards saw The Toon play the majority of the game with 10 men, but not before a beautiful through ball from Jonjo Shelvey carved through Newcastle’s centre-backs, allowing Bafétimbi Gomis to round Tim Krul for an easy opener on eight minutes.
Poor defending from captain Fabricio Coloccini saw 5ft 9" Andre Ayew outjump him to nod in The Swans’ second of the afternoon and condemn The Magpies’ to their seventh consecutive Premier League loss away from home, equalling their record from October 1999.
It was a listless display from the visitors who failed to create any real meaningful attacks whilst the threatening runs of winger Jefferson Montero saw the back-four tied in knots at times.
Despite boss Steve McClaren claiming that “We didn't learn a lot apart from it is difficult to win with 10 men”, others saw it as Newcastle being brought back down to earth after a positive draw against Southampton in their opening game.
McClaren has known all along that the task ahead of him is by no means a small one and although a strong attack can win you games, a good defence always makes you hard to beat.
If defensive issues are not addressed this summer, The Toon may find themselves in another relegation dog-fight by the new year.
It is clear that Newcastle must invest in another centre-back at the very minimum, if not two.
33-year-old Fabricio Coloccini has shown signs of an irreversible decline this year; 29-year-old Steven Taylor has a history of injuries and cannot be relied up for first team football; and Mike Williamson looks set to leave the club by the end of the month following a series of poor showings last season.
This leaves Chancel Mbemba as the only reliable centre-back despite being only two games into his Newcastle career.
Whoever lines-up in the back four has two tough tests ahead of them in Manchester United and Arsenal. The Magpies’ could find themselves with one point from four games should this worrying trend continue.
Luckily for Newcastle, there are 14 days left of the window in which to fix the problem, something Steve McClaren is surely aware of.