It seems everywhere Newcastle fans look right now, there is a football pundit saying Newcastle “need to spend” over £100m (£150m in the case of Alan Shearer) just to tread water in the Premier League.
It’s no wonder prices are hugely inflated when so-called experts are coming out with these kind of statements.
A perfect example of just how ridiculous these claims are is Paul Pogba. Is he any better than Danny Drinkwater was last season in terms of consistency? Pogba of course has bags of talent and certainly looks the part – but is he really worth £70m more than Drinkwater when judged on stats alone? My point being, by shopping around, Manchester Utd could have spent a fraction of that £90m and brought in a player with similar performance stats. (Maybe Drinkwater is a bad example but stick with me…)
I spent some time researching player contracts and came across some interesting details. Whilst these figures are not exact, they are not far off at all based on the latest Transfermarkt.com stats on fees and contracts. I found some fantastic experienced international players with Premier League experience, and a few with plenty of years ahead of them, to add to the best of last season’s squad.
Now before people jump down my throat and call me nasty names, this article is purely about questioning the need for £150m.
However, I feel a lot of these deals would be achievable and without breaking the bank at all, a good top 10 side could be built.
So, take a look and see what you think…
LB Charlie Taylor
Age 23, Leeds Utd. The very highly rated young left full-back will become a free agent this summer and there will be competition for his signature for sure, but with two left full-backs possibly needed to replace both Haidara and Lazaar, signing Taylor for free could be a great piece of business. FREE
CF Mario Balotelli
Age 26, OGC Nice. The enigmatic frontman is available on a free transfer this summer with no new contract signed as yet and what a back page this signing would be! Strong, quick, powerful, skilful and creative on his day but it depends on which Balotelli turns up. It’s got to be worth a look though, surely? If ever Newcastle are going to find another Tino Asprilla, it can only be Mario. It could be an absolute masterstroke! FREE
DM Lucas Leiva
Age 30, Liverpool. A no-brainer of a signing and one Rafa must surely be looking at given the lack of experience in midfield. Very assured player who protects the back four and does the dirty work, whilst also possessing excellent passing ability. A new captain maybe? Trusted by Benitez and the respect is mutual. FREE
CF Andy Carroll
Age 28, West Ham. Plagued by injuries throughout his career but when Carroll is fit, there is no doubting what he could bring to the table. Fit, and on form, Carroll is every bit a £20m player but whilst currently out of favour at West Ham and struggling for game time, now could be the time to strike to get a good deal. The perfect replacement for Daryl Murphy who would take no settling in period. Still only 28 and with a full pre-season ahead, it could be the perfect moment to bring him back. Price £8m/10m
CB Ryan Shawcross
Age 29, Stoke City. With his contract set to expire next summer, Shawcross is rumoured to be seeking a fresh challenge. It’s very possible Stoke play hard-ball and let him run out his contract but all the signs are that the player will move on to pastures new. There will be a lot of other clubs interested.
Shawcross has been consistently one of the best central defenders in the Premier League for what seems like 20 years, yet at 29 he is only just reaching his peak as a defender, with every chance of more international caps in the future. The club’s current record transfer fee would most definitely have to be broken, but in terms of reliability, this would be a signing to guarantee a solid back line with consistent performances. Much less risky than Mangala at £16m-20m.
RW Arjen Robben
Age 33, Bayern Munich. With Robben’s contract set to expire next summer and Rafa looking for some top quality experience this could be the headline signing. Even at 33 Robben has outrageous acceleration and is a constant menace to defenders with quick feet, ability to play on both flanks or as a second striker, and a very sharp footballing brain he would certainly be useful as we look to consolidate back in the Premier League. Will he be looking at China? There’s every chance. But Robben is a very competitive player and a born winner and may not feel ready for such a drop in standards just yet. Worth a bid?. £4m-6m
DM/CM Ruben Loftus-Cheek
Aged 21, Chelsea. Tipped by many to play a big part in future top flight English football, Loftus-Cheek looks set to go out on loan at the very least this summer. Strong, fearless young midfield enforcer who would add genuine competition to the engine room. LOAN
RB/LB Jon Flanagan
Aged 24, Liverpool (on loan currently at Burnley). Benitez knows the youngster well from his Liverpool days. Still improving but vastly experienced player for just 24 years old. £3m/£4m
AMF Hatem Ben Arfa
Aged 30, PSG. Fan favourite Ben Arfa would be welcomed back by most Newcastle fans with open arms, with many blaming his departure to Hull City on loan firmly on Alan Pardew’s shoulders. An immensely gifted and creative player who, if left to do what he does best, will score and create at least 10 a season. Currently in no-man’s land at PSG after falling out with the manager and with his contract up next summer, it’s possible a loan could be thrashed out for the rest of his contract. £5m/Loan
RB/CB Micah Richards
Aged 28 Aston Villa. Once rated as the best young defender in the country, it’s hard to believe Richards is still under 30. Lost his way since leaving Man City but certainly still young enough to improve under Benitez. Would be a good, low-risk signing and certainly a step up from Jesus Gamez. £3m-4m
GK Pepe Reina
Aged 34, Napoli. With just a year left on his current contract and Benitez’ recent comments regarding his former keeper, there’s a good chance Rafa will be making a move. A top quality, experienced player to add to Darlow, Elliott and possibly Tim Krul. £2m/3m
Aged 25, Chelsea. Finished the season very strongly and when compared to players similar, is an absolute bargain. Well worth having in the squad. £6m
Total Spend £56m approx (not including wages)
Out: Mitrovic (£10m), Diame (£4m), Anita (release), Gouffran (release), Murphy (Free), De Jong (£4m) Riviere (£2m), Saivet (£2m), Hanley (£3m), Lazaar (£4m), Gamez (Free), Sels (£4m)
Total Player Sales £33m approx + wages (approx £7m per year)
Possible line up:
Richards, Shawcross, Clark, Flanagan
Ritchie, Ben Arfa, Robben
Squad: Darlow, Elliott, Krul, Balotelli, Carroll, Lascelles, Mbemba, Dummett, Taylor, Loftus-Cheek, Lucas, Atsu, Colback, Perez
With just a £23m spend (approximately), that’s not a bad squad at all, and for nowhere near the £150m Alan Shearer insists the club needs. Hopefully, if nothing else, this just shows that we have every reason to be optimistic, regardless of what the pundits say.
Howay The Toon!
(All contributions from Newcastle fans welcome, send articles (as well as ideas/suggestions) to [email protected])