In the aftermath of no new signings in January, the north east local media were quick to reassure Newcastle fans.
A number of articles claimed that there was nothing to worry about as their information was that there would be money to spend in the summer, if/when Newcastle United are promoted.
Whether this was a case of actually being briefed by the club ‘insider’, or simply stating the obvious, is an unknown.
After all, which club would now even consider for a second, not strengthening on promotion to the Premier League?
You might as well not even bother coming up.
However, plenty of media and a fair number of Newcastle fans were easily placated by this message that there would be money to spend in the summer, as though this was going to give the club some kind of an advantage against their rivals, if promoted.
They were happy to sweep away the concerns Rafa Benitez obviously made clear he had when he wasn’t backed in January, the United boss having made sure that this message got out into the public domain before then declaring that everything else had to be put aside for the time being, the only focus to be that of getting promotion.
Whilst nobody should expect money to be no object of Newcastle are spending for a Premier League campaign, I think it is important for everybody, especially Mike Ashley, to understand just what the reality is these days.
Serious money has to be spent and that is just to be in the raffle, not to be guaranteed to win it.
Once again, it was in the local media where I saw many comments after Newcastle were reported to be potentially interested in Ben Gibson this summer,
Just called up by England, Gibson has been outstanding and can play centre-back or left-back, is young and English, and Middlesbrough have one of the best defensive records despite being second bottom of the Premier League.
However, the local press were all consistent in saying that his reported £20m valuation would surely be way beyond what Rafa Benitez would be allowed to spend on one player, especially a defender.
There is surely only response to that and that is…why?
Over 14 years ago Newcastle paid around £10m for central defender Jonathan Woodgate, who was exceptional, the best defender most of us have seen. So 14 years later how much are we supposed to pay to get the quality of player needed?
Not saying that every player needs to be that kind of fee but surely if Rafa identifies any player/position for that kind of money as an essential, why in this day and age wouldn’t he be backed to bring the signing in?
To emphasise just how high the stakes are in this era, the current bottom six of the Premier League have spent £330m (all transfer valuations via dedicated website Transfermarkt) between them in the past 12 months. An average of £56m per club.
Even clubs such as Sunderland and Hull who were perceived to have very much underspent, paid out £34m each to try and avoid relegation this season.
Promoted Middlesbrough splashed out £50m and this was on top of paying over £10m for Jordan Rhodes in January 2016 to try and help ensure promotion and hopefully be a player for the Premier league.
Burnley two seasons ago spent only just over £10m and were relegated, this time they have spent a not insignificant £39m and are having a good go at staying out of trouble.
The thing is, this summer we can probably expect prices to rise again as yet more money is pumped into Premier League pockets.
Looking below, just to have a fighting chance of having a healthy season, the funds available to Rafa Benitez surely have to be a minimum of £50m and more.
With a £30m transfer surplus under his belt already, plus around £10m to come from Florian Thuavin’s move to Marseilles, plus various other players no doubt leaving this summer as well, you are already up to a figure of over £50m and that is without even taking into account the riches of being back in the Premier League.
In years to come hopefully there won’t be quite so much pressure on bringing in quite so many players but this time, if Newcastle are promoted then serious money has to be spent to kickstart a new era for NUFC under Rafa Benitez. A serious uplift in quality in numerous areas of the team. To achieve this, surely we will see the current 12 year old transfer record fee of £16m for Michael Owen broken at least two or three times.
With that starting point I’m sure we can all look forward with hope.
League positions of Premier League bottom six with points total and how much spent in last 12 months:
30 Leicester (£77m)
28 Crystal Palace (£85m)
27 Swansea (£50m)
24 Hull (£34m)
22 Middlesbrough (£50m)
20 Sunderland (£34m)
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