There were 12 Rafa Benitez signings for Newcastle United in summer 2016.
The United boss making wholesale changes to try and turn around a club that was in turmoil.
Seven months into the season and Newcastle stand top of the Championship.
How we though have each of those Rafa Benitez signings worked out?
Below I have looked at all 12 players and given them a mark out of 10 as well as a short write-up. In brackets after each player’s name is the number of Championship starts and sub appearances they have made this season.
Isaac Hayden (23 +4) – 7.5 out of 10
Turning 22 today, the young midfielder’s worth has maybe only really been shown in his absence.
Easily the best option at the club to partner Jonjo Shelvey in the middle of the pitch, jury still out though on whether he will be able to progress enough to do a job in the Premier League.
Achraf Lazaar (0 + 4) – 1 out of 10
The expectation was that once he’d settled in, Lazaar would be challenging Paul Dummett for the left-back position and then eventually make it his own ahead of the hoped for return to the Premier League.
The fact he hasn’t started a single league game and can’t even get on the bench says it all.
Dwight Gayle (23 + 5) – 9 out of 10
To have scored 20+ goals despite injuries, with the best goal per minutes ratio in the Championship, means he has been a great signing.
Couldn’t have done any more and realistic hopes he can continue scoring if United are promoted.
Grant Hanley (3 + 5) – 4 out of 10
Looks very much to be simply cover for Jamaal Lascelles and like the Newcastle Captain has the same limitations of lack of pace and not being comfortable when in possession.
One of the players brought in ‘just in case’ and will no doubt be traded in at the end of the season if Newcastle are promoted, with some kind of loss on his transfer fee.
Jesus Gamez (2 + 2) – 2 out of 10
Difficult to know what to make of his really.
With his wealth of experience he was definitely a signing for the here and now, rather than one for the future. Despite Yedlin injured and Vurnon Anita struggling, Gamez still can’t get a game at right-back.
Christian Atsu (10 + 15) – 6 out of 10
Has impressed in flashes but with only 10 starts and unable to get in ahead of the workmanlike Yoan Gouffran, difficult to see him having a future at St James Park beyond this season.
Has contributed with goals and creating chances but simply just not done enough and certainly not convinced he would be the answer in the Premier League.
Ciaran Clark (32 + 0) – 9.5 out of 10
Nailed on for player of the season, has been superb since getting his chance.
United’s best defender week after week and one of the few in the Newcastle squad who will definitely make the step up if Newcastle are back in the top tier.
Daryl Murphy (5 + 5) – 7 out of 10
Limited opportunities but has made a valuable contribution nonetheless.
Brought in to do a job when others are missing/out of form and has deserved more chances.
Matt Ritchie (32 + 2) – 8.5 out of 10
Had a drop in form mid-season but kept on working hard to contribute.
Second top scorer and along with Shelvey top for assists, has given value for money.
Mohamed Diame (22 + 8) – 3 out of 10
After 10 goals for Hull last season and all previous seasons in England spent in the Premier League, he looked a great signing.
With only three goals and two assists all season he has been a massive disappointment and seems to drift through game after game with zero influence.
DeAndre Yedlin (18 + 5) – 7.5 out of 10
A bit wayward at times bit his pace has been a major asset to Newcastle when going forward as well as in defence.
Big hopes that he can develop further and be the kind of attacking full-back NUFC will need if/when getting promoted.
Matz Sels (9 + 0) – 3 out of 10
Brought in as first choice keeper and never looked comfortable.
Probably responsible for a number of dropped points and now can’t even get a place on the bench.
(All contributions from Newcastle fans welcome, send articles (as well as ideas/suggestions) to [email protected])