We all know that it is the crazy season anyway but this morning has seen claims that Mike Ashley is willing to spend £60m this summer in the transfer market.
This follows a story earlier this week where Dick Advocaat was said to have been tempted back to Sunderland with £50m promised for him to spend on players as he sees fit.
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Every year sees countless transfer tales, with pretty much most of them laughable, however this does really look like a crossroads where Mike Ashley has to turn in a definite direction.
Last summer the club owner took a middle route, spending just over £30m in the transfer window.
This figure would have looked a respectable one compared to the competitors, if it wasn’t for factors such as no players having being bought in the previous three transfer windows, having banked around £30m from the sales of Debuchy and Cabaye, plus two of the eight buys (Darlow and Lascelles) were instantly loaned back to Forest.
Mike Ashley’s surprise surprise TV appearance on the final day of the season is meaningless in itself, though it does make you just wonder if something different will happen this time around. Not enough for me to be convinced that cancelling my season ticket was a wrong move due to his strategy of running the club, just yet, but enough to make me have a small hope that the club owner has accepted the reality on the pitch.
With the current TV deal paying roughly £30m a season more than the previous one, money banked from the sales of Mapou, Pardew and Santon (plus potentially others to go) and also the likes of Gutierrez and Taylor off the wage bill. It isn’t difficult to get up to a figure of close to £60m just from those areas, never mind also factoring in the failure to invest enough previosuly.
Whatever those details, the simple fact is that surely Newcastle United and Mike Ashley are faced with having to pay the price for at least some players with a proven track record at the top level, especially when it comes to strikers and attacking midfielders/wingers.
Taking risks on the likes of Riviere and Cabella proved all but disastrous and now Newcastle are linked with the likes of Ings, Austin and Berahino, the type of players who have already shown ability in the Premier League.
Talk though of £10m for a player such as Austin is surely ludicrous though, 18 goals for a relegated club and now a call-up for England?
To sign two credible strikers who can all but guarantee the goals that would keep Newcastle at least healthy next season, you have to be looking at £30m for the pair and that is before you look for at least a couple of much needed defenders (Santon and Mapou needing to be replaced for a start) and one or two midfielders/wingers.
I just can’t see Mike Ashley going for that middle route again, of spending just enough to try and cover the holes and make it seem as though he is trying.
I think it really is the moment when he will spend a bare minimum to try and crawl through another season, or spend credible money on key positions, just as clubs such as Swansea and Southampton have realised you HAVE to do if you’re not to flirt with disaster as a minimum and hopefully try to compete the best you can.