This week has seen Newcastle United again linked with QPR’s Charlie Austin and according to some newspapers, the club would like to make him their fourth summer signing.
However, apparently they are not prepared to pay the proposed £15m asking price and hope to get him for a fee less than that.
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Many Newcastle fans have been wondering why this deal has not been done sooner in the transfer window, as it seems to tick all the boxes as far as Newcastle are concerned.
A proven premier league goal scorer with QPR last season, a player who is hitting his peak at 26 years of age, who also wants to leave his recently relegated club and play in the premier league regularly to boost his international prospects and only has one year left on his contract.
From what you hear he is a good professional and very popular within the dressing room, gets on well with recently appointed Newcastle manager Steve McClaren and coach Steve Black, who both worked with him at QPR.
It’s not just at QPR where he has scored goals regularly either, as his CV shows a record of scoring 82 goals in 155 games for both Swindon and Burnley.
So why haven’t Newcastle United made their move and brought in a proven premier league performer, in a position that they fell dangerously short of in quality last season?
The main stumbling block as ever with the Newcastle hierarchy seems to be money, this could be both the transfer fee and wages, the latter being quoted as £85,000 per week which the player has himself denied.
The transfer fee is also under question as QPR manager Chris Ramsey recently spoke of the fee his club are looking for as being in excess of £15m.
It has been presumed by many, that any club matching £15m would be accepted and personal terms could then be discussed, but I believe there are a number of clubs who would be prepared to pay that for an Englishman who is 26 years old and a proven premier league goal scorer.
Therefore, could it be that by using the words ‘in excess of’, that QPR are actually hoping to bring in a figure closer to £17m/£18m or beyond for their prized asset. Thus hoping a bidding war would begin, that so far hasn’t materialised.
Are clubs therefore waiting to see what happens further along in the transfer window, knowing that Austin only has one year left on his contract and QPR really need to sell him this window, or they can expect to receive less than half of the proposed figure in the January transfer window if he is sold then.
Another question mark over Austin are his reported knee and shoulder injuries, highlighted by that hobbling goal scoring celebration last season and his failed medical at Hull City, when Steve Bruce attempted to sign him from Burnley for £4.5m before he joined QPR.
Austin failed the medical and a couple of the quotes from the Hull manager may put potential buyers off forking out some of the figures previously mentioned.
Bruce told Sky Sports at the time,
“Obviously there is a problem there and a problem which we didn’t think we could mend quickly and we have decided to put a halt to it.
“It’s an awful situation we find ourselves in but the medical is not great, so it looks as if it is a non-starter at the moment.
“It is a blow for him and a blow for us but these medicals are so stringent and obviously he has got a problem.”
Newcastle United have of course had some experience and success with signing strikers who have failed medicals at previous clubs due to knee problems.
When Demba Ba joined from West Ham United after failing a medical at Stoke City, then Stoke City manager Tony Pulis described Ba’s knee as a ticking time bomb. The difference then of course was Demba Ba was a proven goal scorer and a free transfer who was not demanding huge wages.
His agent did insist on a relatively low buyout clause in his contract though, which meant Ba was off as soon as Chelsea came knocking, although only after a hugely successful spell at Newcastle where he played plenty of games and scored plenty of goals with no knee problems to speak of.
Austin also has a history of shoulder problems throughout his career and are these injuries putting off potential suitors from splashing out the kind of fees required to get QPR interested in a sale? Or is it a case of clubs just jostling for positions and waiting to see who moves first for the player, knowing that QPR really need to sell before the window closes.
With the amount of money available to clubs from the TV deal, a fully fit and firing Charlie Austin at around the £15m mark would seem like money well spent, for a lot of premier league clubs on the lookout for a premier league striker.
Newcastle have of course already made a move of their own in bringing in Mitrovic from Anderlecht for less than QPR apparently want for Austin. Mitrovic is a lot younger than Austin at 20 years of age, has no history of injuries but unlike Austin is not a proven performer in the premier league, which of course will be a huge step up from the Belgian first division where he has played and scored goals for the last two seasons.
Mitrovic has performed well for Anderlecht in the Champions League which would provide some confidence that the player can make the step up and score goals in the premier league.
At 20 years of age Mitrovic is also likely to improve as a player and this is maybe what Newcastle are looking for when making the signing.
Austin is unlikely to dramatically improve as a player at his age and with English players such as Raheem Sterling and Saido Berahino being of a similar age and demanding huge transfer fees, maybe Graham Carr and Newcastle have again decided to look overseas for value for money and potential sell on value, like they so often have in the past.
Another option of course and one that many Newcastle fans will be hoping for, is that Newcastle United are looking to bring in Charlie Austin to play alongside Mitrovic in a new look front line, and a bid will be lodged soon for the QPR striker.
By signing Mitrovic, Newcastle have made a move and shown that they are not going to be held to ransom and pay over the odds for a player in a position that they have recently spent heavily in.
I think many Newcastle fans will still be hoping that the club forget about past transfer window details such as profit and sell on value for once, and look to bring in a proven popular English striker who can lead the line next season, and hopefully score the goals to move Newcastle up the table.