Newcastle United will begin the 2016/17 campaign in the Championship for the second time in the last eight seasons.
With Rafa Benitez at the helm, however, the optimism is running high amongst the Geordie faithful. The former Liverpool and Real Madrid boss is facing one of the toughest managerial challenges of his career, and will have to strengthen his squad in one key area if they are to achieve promotion back to the Premier League.
The Newcastle number nine shirt has been highly revered down the years. From Jackie Milburn in the 40's and 50's, to Andy Cole in the early 90's and finally the greatest of them all - Alan Shearer. It has been a position recently though, that the Tyneside outfit have struggled with.
Aleksandar Mitrovic failed to live up to his potential
Aleksandar Mitrović was brought in from Anderlecht last summer for a fee believed to be in the region of £13 million, and many of the Toon Army thought he could be their new hero. Once again, however, the fans were left disappointed. He displayed glimpses of his talent, but a return of just nine goals in 36 outings shows there is room for improvement. It is worth remembering, however, that the Serbian is only 21-years-old, and he should still be granted a degree of patience and a chance to prove himself in the future. Newcastle need someone for the now, though, and possibly even somebody who Mitrović could learn from.
Rafa needs to sign a centre-forward in his prime, with experience of playing in English football. Someone with a proven track record of scoring goals in England.
Diafra Sakho is a popular figure at West Ham, but has struggled for first team football of late
They should look no further than West Ham United's Senegalese ace Diafra Sakho. His future has been the subject of intense speculation over the summer, with various Premier League clubs interested in gaining his signature. Some would question whether the Hammers striker would consider dropping down a division, but you cannot underestimate the pull of Rafa Benitez, or the chance to play regular first team football. Sakho has scored 19 goals in 50 appearances for West Ham, which isn't exactly prolific, but it is his tireless running in behind the opposition's defence that causes teams so many problems. He would be a fantastic addition to the Newcastle front-line.
Diafra Sakho would be the perfect signing for Newcastle
Newcastle could hold the advantage in the chase for Sakho's signature. West Ham have made no secret of their desire to being Andros Townsend to the club, and with the former Tottenham Hotspur winger still undecided as to where he will be playing next season, a swap deal could be a serious possibility. His release clause fee is understood to be in the region of Sakho's valuation, and a swap deal would suit both parties. West Ham are without Victor Moses after he returned back to parent club Chelsea this summer, so the addition of Townsend would makes sense.
Newcastle would represent Sakho with an opportunity to rebuild his career, after becoming merely a squad player in East London. He could become a hero amongst the St James' Park faithful, with his non-stop running and work rate combined with blistering pace and his astute finishing.
Much will depend on how Rafa views their need for a centre-forward, but with Sakho quite clearly available for the right price, the Magpies should move now.
Would Rafa consider a move for Sakho?