With the loan signing of Lewis Hall complete and Eddie Howe saying that Newcastle are finished in terms of incomings—injuries pending—attention has shifted towards a group of senior players on the books at S. James' Park dubbed "The Expendables".
Ryan Fraser, Isaac Hayden, and Jeff Hendrick have been in this group for quite some time now. Hayden and Hendrick spent the entirety of 2022/23 out on loan in The Championship and Fraser was dropped from the Newcastle squad in the second half of the season.
They have each been fully excluded from training the senior squad this summer, with Howe telling them they have no future at the club while he is head coach.
The trio have been more recently joined by Javier Manquillo, who has become surplus to requirements following the arrivals of Hall and Tino Livramento. The Spaniard has dropped out of the first team picture in the last few weeks, having been heavily involved in pre-season.
Howe initially put this down to injury, but Manquillo was pictured and videoed in full training after the head coach's comments about his fitness. He has disappeared from sight altogether since, though, with a groin issue blamed for his absence.
Of the quartet, the versatile full-back seems the most likely to depart permanently as he has the most to offer at the top level.
He has been linked with a transfer to Getafe and Girona of La Liga, with the rumours being that he would leave on a free transfer to get his wages off the books. Manquillo is only under contract until June 2024, but this could still be a saving of more than £1.5 million for Newcastle, with his weekly wage said to be around the £35,000 mark.
Most sources have Fraser on around £45,000 and the Scotsman has two years left to run on his deal at St. James' Park, making a permanent transfer more unlikely.
While he has been linked to Celtic and Rangers throughout the summer, as well as to Empoli of Serie A, who would purportedly cover 50% of his wages, a temporary departure rather than a permanent one does seem more likely at this juncture.
Fraser is persona non grata at the training ground, having fallen out with Howe for the second time in his career during the previous campaign. The head coach publicly questioned Fraser's commitment in the aftermath of his exclusion from the squad in March, commenting "I made the decision to concentrate on players that are committed to Newcastle. For the benefit of the group, I’ve made that call."
The same can't be said of Hayden, who has been a superb servant to the club since joining from Arsenal all the way back in 2016.
Despite some difficult periods due to family issues, Hayden always gave everything on the pitch and has made over 150 appearances for the club. His loan at Norwich in the previous campaign had a purchase option attached to it, but serious injury problems meant the Canaries were never likely to make the deal permanent.
Hayden only managed 12 appearances in the yellow and struggled for form on the rare occasions he did feature. Middlesbrough, Millwall, Queens Park Rangers, and West Bromwich Albion have all been credited with an interest in the defensive midfielder of late, but with a contract that runs until June 2026, it's hard to see anything other than another loan deal in which Newcastle pay a portion of his wages.
Fittingly, there has been total radio silence about Hendrick all summer, which is perhaps no surprise after his poor showing on loan at relegated Reading last season. It's hard to feel any sort of attachment to the Irish international, who has contributed very little at St. James' Park and has been out on loan for the past 18 months.
One thing with Hendrick, though, is that he has gotten himself out on loan in search of regular first-team football rather than sitting and collecting his wages. We do expect that the same will happen again this summer, but a smaller club in The Championship is probably the best he can hope for. We wonder if there's a place for him at the Stadium of Light?