Rafa Benitez made 12 Newcastle signings, 11 buys and Christian Atsu on an initial loan but with a permanent clause.

Many rival fans and those in the media accused Rafa/Newcastle of trying to buy their way out of the Championship.

In other words, spending money on players in a very short-term plan who could do a job in the Championship, but then having to start all over again in rebuilding the squad once again – if/when promoted.

However, is this really true, or just yet another lazy assumption/story without looking properly at the facts?

A quick look at the ages of the Newcastle signings is quite revealing.

If you take away Daryl Murphy and Jesus Gamez, then it looks more than obvious that Rafa Benitez is already planning for the future and has made his signings accordingly.

Here are the 12 Newcastle signings of this summer, with the age they will be when next (2017/18) season kicks off:

34 Daryl Murphy

32 Jesus Gamez

30 Mohamed Diame

27 Ciaran Clark

27 Matt Ritchie

26 Dwight Gayle

25 Matz Sels

25 Christian Atsu

25 Grant Hanley

25 Achraf Lazaar

24 DeAndre Yedlin

22 Isaac Hayden

Murphy and Gamez were only given two year contracts and were clearly brought in for their experience in the short-term, although injury has wrecked those plans so far.

However, the other 10 signings have clearly been brought in with the future in mind, as well as the here and now of getting out of the Championship.

Mohamed Diame might not have quite worked out so far but he will only be 30 when next season kicks off and has spent every previous season in England in the Premier League, apart from last year when he scored 10 from midfield as Hull were promoted.

At the other end of the scale, Isaac Hayden will be only 22 when the 2017/18 season starts, though he has the experience of playing in that promoted Hull team alongside Diame last year.

The other eight Newcastle signings though, will all be aged between 24 and 27 when August 2017 comes around, prime ages if you were then making them new signings – though instead they will all have the benefit of a year already at Newcastle.

Of course we will have our own thoughts on which players are more likely than others to be able to make a potential step up/back to the Premier League and indeed the likes of Ritchie, Diame, Yedlin, Gayle and Clark have already played there.

Imagine that, a Manager buying a team of players to help get Newcastle out of the Championship, as well as looking to the future, rather than buying a load of young foreign players you hope will rise in value and/or ageing Championship has-beens who would need instantly replaced if you did get promoted.

You would think Rafa Benitez knew what he was doing….

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