Fair to say that Newcastle transfers haven’t quite worked out so far as most of us hoped and to a large extent, expected.
The local media in particular had fuelled hopes, claiming that their information was that Rafa Benitez expected to get his main transfer targets in early, allowing him to work with them throughout pre-season.
Christian Atsu was signed only days after the Championship ended, that deal being time sensitive as Newcastle only had a certain number of days in which to take advantage of the previously agreed £6.2m transfer fee.
Atsu only started 15 games in the Championship when on loan last season, so is seen as very much a squad player rather than starting the season in the first team, but an ok start.
Newcastle fans then had almost a two month wait before Florian Lejeune was at last announced as the second signing, after around six weeks of negotiating as the club tried to pay a reduced fee and then pay in instalments, eventually an £8.7m deal was agreed.
Supporters hoped this would be the cork being popped, leading to other Newcastle transfers quickly following.
This hasn’t happened as yet and whilst I haven’t given up hope, my gut feeling isn’t that there are big deals in the pipeline.
The fact the club have stretched the Florian Lejeune transfer coverage to a week so far, hardly encourages, a hopeful transfer of somebody who at the age of 26 has played all but one season in the French and Spanish second divisions.
Whilst the local media coverage of the summer transfer market has gone from reassuring us that Rafa would land big targets early, to now seemingly dragging expectations down with talk of how little Newcastle have received in TV income from last season compared to the clubs that were in the Premier League in 2016/17.
The message appearing to be that Newcastle fans can’t realistically expect ambitious signings and that Lejeune type deals will be more likely. Obviously we don’t know whether this is guesswork by journalists, or they are being given a steer by the club and the media are going down this line to keep in with NUFC. Either way, it doesn’t raise the spirits as to Newcastle bringing in the players they desperately need.
This Thursday saw Lejeune finally have his press conference when presented to the media for the first time.
Rafa Benitez wasn’t present and journalists had no opportunity to ask him about how his transfer plans were progressing and how comfortable he was with things etc.
Following this, an article has now appeared in the Chronicle, putting a positive spin on the Newcastle transfers so far…
Lee Ryder in The Chronicle – 8 July 2017:
‘And in a week when Lejeune arrived through the door plus youngsters Stefan O’Connor and Josef Yarney the fears that Newcastle weren’t going to be adding players to the ranks this summer have been eased.’
I’m afraid to say this smacks very much of clutching at very thin straws.
I do still hope the necessary signings will be made but for the Chronicle to be trying to convince us that ‘fears…have been eased’ by these three players arriving, well I have to say their reassurance works in the exact opposite way.
I always hope any player that arrives at St James Park will be a success but surely you have to be realistic.
To count Stefan O’Connor and Josef Yarney as reassuring signings is surely laughable.
They are young players discarded by other Premier League clubs (Arsenal and Everton) without ever starting a first team match between them. The two players are 20 and 19 years old respectively and O’Connor once got 13 minutes of first team action when Arsenal beat Galatasaray 4-1 away from home.
The fact that Newcastle United had big interviews with each of these two players was worrying enough, they are a million miles away from ever playing in the Premier League and should have been allowed to slip in with barely a mention and get on quietly with the Under 23 set-up, which is where they have gone. It isn’t impossible that they could make it but it would be a bit of a lottery win if it happens and they couldn’t and shouldn’t have been covered as significant signings in any shape or form.
The hype around Lejeune is also ridiculous, with him being the only new face so far he is getting far too much exposure and I fear supporters will have had expectation raised too high as to what to expect.
He is a budget signing with very limited experience of first team football in a top division, it would be a very impressive signing if he can show he can do it in the Premier League but we can’t hide from the fact that at this stage the odds are very much stacked against him.
It is ironic that in the Championship last season, Newcastle made signings such as Ritchie and Gayle, that if being made now, would have fans far more optimistic, with both of them having shown they can do it in the Premier League previously, to a limited extent in terms of number of games.
The bar now has to be raised and Newcastle transfers made who you would expect to be first team certainties when the season kicks off in five weeks time.
Only then will my fears have been eased.
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