Gini Wijnaldum should be the first player Newcastle look to move on.
Yes he was Newcastle’s top goalscorer and obviously he would be in the first team next season if still at St James Park BUT I think there are clear and obvious reasons why it makes perfect sense to trade him in ASAP.
Obviously there are other Newcastle players that I would choose to see the back of before Wijnaldum but we have to also keep a grasp of reality.
It needs a miracle for United to get rid of so many duff players, a list which includes Gouffran, Saivet, Ameobi, Coloccini, Riviere and so on. Moving those players on just isn’t going to happen, unless the club basically pay them to go away.
Wijnaldum on the other hand isn’t a poor player, I just don’t think he is all that good. He is a good finisher but I don’t think he has an awful lot more to his game, whole runs of games would go by last season when you would forget he is on the pitch.
Playing in the Championship and the need to scrap for every point just increases my doubts as to why it would make any sense to keep him.
The two biggest reasons though are merely practical ones, Wijnaldum is probably the player capable of attracting the biggest fee and Rafa Benitez needs money to bring in the players that he wants.
Yes we know that the statements confirming Rafa Benitez was staying, included references to a significant transfer kitty agreed PLUS the cash that is brought in from sales – but I think Rafa may have a smaller budget to play with than we would like to think he has. In fact I wouldn’t be surprised if the agreement with Ashley means that the vast majority of the transfer budget will be down to cash from player sales.
As we know, the cash stockpiled in previous seasons by Mike Ashley, was all spent/wasted in the last two windows, so there isn’t cash in the bank/accounts waiting to be handed over to Rafa.
So whatever guaranteed budget Benitez will be given, is likely to have come from Ashley himself, or the club borrowing.
On top of this, FFP (Financial Fair Play) rules are strictly enforced in the Championship and clubs heavily fined for making losses/overspending. Bournemouth were handed a £7.6m fine for overspending in 2014/15 on the way to promotion and as for the mess QPR found themselves in…
To be honest I don’t have much of a problem with Mike Ashley not making a massive amount available to Rafa Benitez but only on the assumption that he can indeed sell on players and use all the cash for his own buys (as opposed to the last relegation season when Mike Ashley sold anybody he got an offer for, released a host of players on big wages such as Michael Owen but didn’t allow Chris Hughton to buy a single player in summer 2009).
Fair enough there will have to be major hits taken on some players but you can still generate a fair bit of cash and saved wages on players such as Thauvin, Mitrovic and Shelvey who weren’t even in the Newcastle team in the relegation run-in. Whilst others such as as Cisse, Tiote and Janmaat who were getting games could almost certainly find new homes and generate fees as well as slashing the wage bill. All moves that would help free up more cash and wriggle room for Rafa Benitez.
It isn’t a case of getting rid of all of these players but I think it makes perfect sense to start off at that end of things, players who could generate fee and/or major savings on wages.
This summer looks sure to see more Premier League spending than ever before on transfers, with the new TV deal forcing prices up on the same limited pool of players potentially good enough for the Premier League.
With Wijnaldum scoring 11 goals in his debut season in England, five assists as well, a current Dutch international and still only 25 – I reckon the bidding would start at £15m and could go as high as £20m for him.
That would be a great start to Rafa’s ‘rebuild a club’ fund and an essential first step in my opinion.
When Gini Wijnaldum leaves, he will go with my best wishes but no regrets about his departure.