Three under-the-radar gems who should be interesting Newcastle this summer

After losing just three of their past 10 Premier League matches, Newcastle are most bookies’ sixth-likeliest side to go down in May, but Rafael Benitez will need substantial improvements if he is to avoid another relegation battle next term.

Here are a few fellows from the continent who are worth a second look:

Aleksei Miranchuk – Lokomotiv Moscow

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The Miranchuk twins headed across town after being let go by Spartak in 2011, but while Anton is only two games into his Russia career, Aleksei already has four goals in 14 international fixtures.

Both seem certain to pick up Russian Premier League winners’ medals this season, with the Railroaders eight points clear and unbeaten domestically since October, having finished eighth last term.

Aleksei has been practically ever-present behind rotating strikers Jefferson Farfan, Ari and Eder, bagging seven goals in 20 RPL starts.

If he carries that form into Russia’s opening match against Saudi Arabia, the lowest ranked nation at the World Cup, he won’t stay under the radar for long.

Marcelo – Rio Ave

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A veteran of the northern Portuguese side’s first tastes of Europa League action in 2014/15 and 2016/17, having been the club’s player of the year all the way back in 2012/13, Brazilian centre-back Marcelo could be available on a free this summer at the age of 28.

Rio Ave are best-of-the-rest in fifth, the only Primeira Liga outfit outside the top four without a negative goal difference, with Marcelo the defensive rock upon which they are built.

In a position Newcastle need to improve, he could be the value option.

Antonio Sanabria – Real Betis

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Despite only turning 22 next week, Sanabria has already played in the old Segunda Liga with Barcelona B, Serie A with Sassuolo and Roma, and La Liga with Sporting Gijon and Real Betis.

No player in Spain’s top division can quite match Sanabria’s record of scoring a goal every 91 minutes this season, with Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi next best on 99 and 100 respectively.

Unfortunately, after bagging seven in his first 10 appearances of the campaign, a knee injury has kept Sanabria out since November, but if the Paraguay forward can prove his fitness before the end of term, vultures will circle.