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Finally we’ve signed a striker

6 years ago

And by signed, I mean properly…finally signed.

In these times of social media and 24 hour over excitement, I personally refuse to consider anyone as signed until he has adopted the position: black and white shirt on, black and white scarf held aloft, East stand in the background, smile please.

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And by a striker I mean a proper striker. Not a likely prospect from some European second division, not someone who’s done middlingly in the French league, an actual name striker with a prolific scoring record, goals in the Champions League and a string of suitors chasing his signature.

Job done then, a step in the right direction as our club maybe begins to fix itself. But then this is Newcastle and there’s always likely to be a catch to it, isn’t there?

Well, maybe I’d already been made aware of this.

A good few weeks ago, I got a message from my mate Filip.

Filip is Belgian, a Club Brugge fan I made friends with during our last European venture (which feels like a lifetime ago) and I got a bit of a surprise as his message came as news to me.

Apparently, reports in Belgium were suggesting the Newcastle had as good as signed Aleksandar Mitrovic from Anderlecht for the coming season, and Fil had some foreboding words of warning.

Mitrovic undoubtedly has a reputation as an up and coming hot property across Europe, but it seems that those in the know in Belgium have some reservations. Filip called him an old style goal hanger, feeding off the efforts of an Anderlecht team set up to put it on a plate for him. The exact word used was ‘lazy’, with the Serb apparently notorious for returning from international breaks a few pounds worse for wear (HBA anyone?).

I’ve always put a lot of stock in local knowledge, so the ensuing transfer saga was very interesting to me, as Mitrovic seemed to lend weight to Filip’s warning.

The deal seemed to stall as various other clubs were touted as likely destinations. Roma, Porto and Chelsea were the common mentions as members of the Mitrovic family turned up on Tyneside in what was increasingly looking like an attempt to jack up signing on fees.

When the trail went a bit cold and bookies suspended odds on Charlie Austin signing for United, it seemed the focus had shifted and this was not to be.

For the record, I will be genuinely amazed if we go on to sign Austin as well, though will be happy to be spectacularly proved wrong if a deal goes through that would see the line led with considerable firepower and versatility.

Of course, Mitrovic signed and I have to say that in spite of the warning from Bruges, I am genuinely chuffed to have him here. Hopefully he can be the 20 goal man we haven’t seen since Shearer (watch that comparison mind) and there is no doubting he chose to come here in spite of having options.

What I’m not convinced of is the quotes that NUFC was the club he supported as a lad and always wanted to sign for. To me that smacked of a lackey in a Sports Direct blazer handing him a piece of paper and saying ‘read that, it should appease some dafties’.

The thing is, you can’t hold it against Mitrovic for exploring his options. You can’t hold it against anyone who chooses to move elsewhere for seeing opportunity at an alternative destination.

The existential status of NUFC in recent years has done more than enrage fans and destroy hope on Tyneside. Beyond our region we have become an irrelevance, an also-ran. We are the infamous stepping stone from continental to Premier League football.

Have a good year here and you may get your (real) dream move to Chelsea, Liverpool or Arsenal. If you ambition is more immediate, then you pick your better option right now.

This transfer for me could be pivotal to the above situation. Is Filip right that Mitrovic may leave us with shattered dreams? If he does notch 20 goals then the lunatic status quo will doubtless be throwing £50 million at us this time next year and previous form suggests we’ll cash in, not build up and compete. Of course there’s also the romantic alternative.

Could the signings of Mitrovic and Wijnaldum herald a summer of continuing growth? It seems the essential centre back is next up with Chancel Mbemba still to assume that crucial East Stand pose.

If another centre half, a quality left sided player and Charlie Austin were thrown into that mix you’d have to start feeling a smidgy tad on the excitable side for the Southampton game.

I’m still yet to be convinced (signing someone who would be excellent for the team but have no sell on value would be a huge step).

Anyone who is quick to see vindication in Ashley’s words pre-West Ham is being too naive, but the spread of cautious optimism is tangible.

As ever, God knows how it will all turn out.

Follow Jamie on Twitter @Mr_Dolf


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