Newcastle transfer rumours – Can we believe them?

Difficult time for a football fan, late May and June. The season is finished. No games; no transfers. Come July things start to happen – but for the next month or so it’s just rumours.

I know very well that a lot of what appears at this time of year is just rubbish – made up by journalists desperate to fill column inches, or by agents trying to generate fees for themselves. But is any of it to be believed?

The way I see it, if we want a clue about what is likely to happen in the future, the best place to look is the past.

I did an article for The Mag a little while back looking at what lessons we might be able to learn from Rafa’s time with Liverpool, and one thing which came out very clearly was that he tends to buy and sell a lot of players – every year his squads tend to have a big turnover of players in and out. So we can probably expect a lot of activity.

And if last year is anything to go by, we can expect a lot of that activity to happen pretty quickly after the transfer window opens.

So, if it as all about to kick off in a month’s time, how much attention should we be paying to the stories that are appearing now?

To try and find out I’ve had a look at the Newcastle Transfer Rumours that The Mag carried (from various media outlets) in May and June last year.

Here they are, from the end of the 2015-16 season up until the transfer window opening:

    • 4th May – Spurs about to bid for Thauvin – Rubbish
    • 19th May – Tiote, Cisse and Krul all set to leave – True-ish
    • 23rd May – Newcastle interested in Ross McCormack – along with Fulham and Villa. How closely we looked at him we don’t really know, but the story turned out to be correct at least in part.
    • 27th May – Cisse to stay for the last year of his contract – Wrong
    • 1st June – Alan Pardew looking to sign Krul for Crystal Palace – Wrong
    • 3rd June – Newcastle linked with West Ham’s Reece Burke – Wrong
    • 5th June – Palace to sign Townsend – Correct
    • 5th June – Newcastle looking at Victor Anichebe and Patrick Bamford – Wrong
    • 5th June – Papiss Cisse set to go to China – True
    • 7th June – Newcastle to sign Nano from Tenerife – Wrong
    • 9th June – Newcastle to sign back Mehdi Abeid – Wrong
    • 9th June – Newcastle approach Maccabi Tel Aviv for Eran Zahavi – Wrong
    • 10th June – Napoli to sign Wijnaldum – Wrong
    • 13th June – Bigirimana set to sign for Coventry – True
    • 13th June – Wilnaldum set to go to AS Roma – Wrong
    • 13th June – Newcastle to sign Sparta Prague’s Ladislav Krecki – Wrong
    • 15th June – Mbemba set for Fiorentina – Wrong
    • 15th June – Hamburg bid £9m for Sissoko! – Wrong
    • 15th June – Sissoko linked with West Brom – Wrong
    • 15th June – Everton target Wilnaldum and Krul – Wrong
  • 16th June – Shelvey set to leave for Palace – Wrong
  • 16th June – Newcastle to sign Alexander Mendy from Nice – Wrong
  • 16th June – Newcastle leading race for Jose Naranjo from Tarragona – Wrong
  • 20th June – Thauvin heading back to Marseille – True
  • 21st June – Newcastle linked with move for Isaac Hayden – True
  • 21st June – Newcastle to sign Alex Pritchard from Spurs – Wrong
  • 23rd June – Newcastle approach Reading for Danny Williams – Wrong
  • 25th June – Newcastle offer £10m for Dwight Gayle (“Dwight Gayle has an underwhelming 15 goals in 3 seasons at Selhurst Park which doesn’t inspire confidence”…!!) – True
  • 25th June – AS Nancy to sign Riviere – unfortunately Wrong
  • 26th June – Cheick Mbengue coming to Newcastle – Wrong
  • 27th June – Man City, Arsenal, Everton and Spurs chasing Ayoze Perez – Wrong
  • 28th June – Newcastle to sign Matz Sels – True
  • 29th June – Townsend to sign for Palace – True
  • 29th June – Matt Ritchie set to sign – True
  • 29th June – Ivan Toney going out on loan – True
  • 30th June – Liverpool interested in Sissoko – Wrong
  • 6th July – Newcastle to sign Jesus Gamez – True
  • 9th July – Newcastle to sign Isaac Hayden – True
  • 9th July – Newcastle make offer for Grant Hanley – True
  • 18th July – Wijnaldum set for Liverpool – True

A few interesting things from all of that.

First, it seems to confirm that until you get right up close to the window, the stories which appear are pretty-much guesswork. From the start of May right through to late June there wasn’t a single story which correctly predicted an incoming transfer. There were a few which correctly predicted outgoing moves – but most of those were ones which any of us could have predicted ourselves. The first story linking us with a player who we subsequently signed was on 21st June when we were linked with Isaac Hayden.

Second, not many of the transfers which we eventually completed were seen coming in advance. The only ones which were flagged up before the window opened were the Isaac Hayden story which appeared a couple of weeks before he signed, and the reported offer for the “underwhelming” Dwight Gayle which appeared on the 25th June, a few days before the window opened.

Third, once we got to a couple of days before the window, virtually all the stories turned out to be true.

The conclusion? No doubt we’ll all carry on avidly reading every transfer rumour (myself included) – but it isn’t worth paying much attention to any of it until a couple of days before the window opens.

(All contributions from Newcastle fans welcome, send articles (as well as ideas/suggestions) to [email protected])