While we still wait to see the first new player of the summer agree terms with Newcastle, a clearout of the best paid players at St James Park has/is producing a massive opportunity.
Looking back at the players who have left Tyneside, there has been a definite pattern of shifting the best paid players off the books.
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Below I have listed what I believe are the 16 best paid players to play for Newcastle in the last 18 months.
Using a combination of transfer fees paid by Newcastle, the profile of each player, press reports and simple common sense, I have listed them in the order of highest paid at the top (Loic Remy) and then working down through Coloccini and the rest.
The players in bold are the ones who have left NUFC:
Hatem Ben Arfa
Siem de Jong
Luuk de Jong
As you can see, 8 of the 16 listed are no longer still at Newcastle, including loan players Loic Remy and Luuk de Jong.
Of the other eight on this best paid players list, there are major doubts as to whether players such as Papiss Cisse, Moussa Sissoko and Cheick Tiote will still be at the club in September.
If two or more of those remaining eight also left this summer, it would leave the club with a seriously lower wage bill than they had not so long ago.
Looking at last season, a host of lower paid players took up the slack, to greater or lesser degrees, that list including:
Mike Williamson, Mehdi Abeid, Paul Dummett, Jak Alnwick, Adam Armstrong, Rob Elliot, Sammy Ameobi, Ayoze Perez, Massadio Haidara,Rolando Aarons and Gabriel Obertan.
I see this now going one of two ways.
Either Mike Ashley sees this as a great opportunity to move the squad forward once again, using the departure of so many big earners and a low overall transfer spend in recent seasons, to then move some proven well paid signings into the squad to significantly raise the quality and experience.
Or….he sees it as a chance to take/keep this wage bill as low as he possibly can and this summer generally sign players on relatively low transfer fees and wages, almost certainly from abroad and/or the Championship, then yet again use young/average players who are already at St James Park to take up the slack.
One approach should mean the rebuilding of the squad making significant progress, whilst the second option will almost certainly leave the owner yet again gambling with the relegation zone.
What I am convinced of is that the opportunity is definitely there, it just has to be grasped.