Rob Lee was arguably Kevin Keegan’s greatest signing for Newcastle United.
The United Manager persuading the Charlton midfielder to sign for second tier Newcastle rather than Premier League Middlesbrough.
For £700,000, Keegan and Newcastle got 10 years of brilliant service from a very talented player who played right wing, then switched to being an attacking central midfielder, before ending his NUFC career as a holding midfielder.
Rob Lee went on to play for England and at one point Kevin Keegan declared that he was the best midfielder in the Premier League – he wasn’t wrong.
However, 25 years on (where did that time go…?) from Lee signing for Newcastle, what does £700,000 get you?
Rob Lee believes that the reality is that Rafa has done a great job and needed £10m signings such as Ritchie and Gayle to achieve that.
However, now is the time for those kind of transfer fees to be doubled or even trebled if Newcastle are to even have a chance of competing for mid-table, according to the Newcastle legend.
Times have moved on – Everton spent just under £30m in summer 2015 on Lukaku and he is top scorer in the Premier League, whilst Crystal Palace spent £30m on Benteke last summer and his goals at the weekend against Liverpool look to have secured their top flight safety.
Newcastle’s recent accounts showed that Rafa Benitez made a £40m transfer profit on ins and outs last summer, then with Thauvin leaving this summer for £10m and other players sure to also be sold as the Manager recycles his squad for a Premier League campaign, plus of course the return of PL TV funds, there will be no excuse for Mike Ashley not backing his Manager.
That is of course if the NUFC owner is really determined to keep him…
Rob Lee speaking to Sky Sports:
“Rafa will enjoy this but he will have one eye on…will he be able to do what he wants to do with the club? That will be the big thing.
“I’d like to think Mike Ashley and the board will back Rafa Benitez.
“We have been through a few managers recently and we have got a manager here that the fans love, that is very good at his job, and you allow him to pick who he wants to pick.
“In January they wouldn’t give him any money to bolster the squad and you saw a few cracks there.
“In his interview (after beating Preston) he said, ‘Let’s have a look in the summer’.
“His stock now is huge. He just took Newcastle back to the Premier League so if Newcastle don’t give him what he wants, there will be plenty of clubs that will.
“Next year they won’t be able to balance the books, they have to spend big.
“Newcastle have to spend the majority of the money they get on players.
“Mike Ashley has backed him with £10m players but you have to look at £20m and £30m players now to bolster that squad and even get you into that mid-table.”