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Opinion

Can Rafa Benitez convince Mike Ashley that loan signings are essential?

3 years ago
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Mike Ashley has repeatedly shown that he is more than happy to loan players out.

Any number of Newcastle players have gone out in recent years, including many with permanent contract triggers, such as Cabella, Santon, Yanga-Mbiwa and Thauvin.

Even more have been allowed to go out to save on wages and/or hopefully increase their value and make certain ones capable of being sold.

This season you have seen Siem de Jong, Henri Saivet and Tim Krul away for the year, as well as any number of younger players such as Armstrong and Mbabu where there may still be hope of them being able to progress to first team level at Newcastle.

A bit like a landlord, Mike Ashley has been more than happy to loan out before potentially buying but when it comes to Newcastle loaning players, he hasn’t been quite as keen.

The club owner appears to see this as the very worst kind of transfer idea, paying sizeable amounts to other clubs to simply rent their players, money down the drain with no chance of recouping it/making a profit. The polar opposite of the Ashley policy of ordering that Newcastle must only buy young players with the hope they would increase in value.

In the Premier League era of six seasons between the two relegations under Mike Ashley, Newcastle only loaned three players for a full season.

It gets decent coverage the fact that Chris Hughton got zero transfer budget in summer 2009 when given the caretaker job of getting Newcastle promoted. A few budget buys then happened in the January as Newcastle looked a good bet for promotion.

Not so much coverage though is given to the fact that Chris Hughton was also starved of funds in summer 201o as a reward for getting promotion with 102 points.

Cheick Tiote was the one ‘big’ buy for a reported £3.5m, James Perch was a bargain buy for under a million, plus free transfers Campbell and Gosling. To add much needed quality to a small squad, Hatem Ben Arfa arrived on an initial one year loan after becoming unwanted at Marseille.

Having sold Demba Ba in January 2013 and not replaced him, Newcastle then went into a very strange summer after only just surviving relegation in their final away game at QPR. Not a single player was bought in summer 2013 and with injury doubts for Papiss Cisse, a late move was made to bring in Loic Remy for a year on loan – a desperate move with Newcastle having so few other options (Shola!) up front.

The only other full season loan in those six years of Premier League football was the very dodgy Facundo Ferreyra. Bringing in the Argentine striker who wasn’t even good enough to play a single minute of first team football, was very strange, sounding very much like when it was admitted Gonzalez was brought in on loan as a favour to agents.

The other Newcastle loans in the Premier League have all been for the last few months of the season.

Andy Carroll sold for £35m and we got Stephen Ireland on loan until the summer – a total waste of space he was.

Luuk de Jong came in during January 2014, the same month Yohan Cabaye was sold for £18m and not replaced. The Dutch striker was played out of position in midfield by Alan Pardew, who clearly had no input into the decision to bring in the player.

Finally we have Seydou Doumbia, with Newcastle desperate to get goals to get out of relegation trouble in came Doumbia in January 2016. A desperate last minute move after failing to bring in a proper proven striker.

Even in the Championship it was much anticipated that we would see significant money spent on a few loan signings, allowing Rafa to bring in players better than this standard but on the understanding they would just be one season deals and the loan fees/wages being money that couldn’t be recouped.

In the event, Christian Atsu was the only one to come on loan, with a possible permanent deal after the loan, and that was in the final stages of the summer 2016 window. With only four league starts in his last three loan spells at Malaga, Bournemouth and Everton, it is more than likely that Chelsea were just glad to be saving on his wages for the season, rather than expecting a big loan payment from Newcastle.

I’m not saying that it has to be our key transfer strategy but loan signings of quality players must be seen as one short-term way of ensuring Premier League level players can come in and do a job, as well as the other permanent signings that will arrive.

For example Lukaku did a cracking job at both West Brom and Everton on loan for a season each, before signing permanently for the scousers. The striker scored 32 Premier League goals in 49 starts and 19 appearances from the bench over the course of those two loan seasons.

Mike Ashley needs to bite the bullet and give Rafa loan signings if he wants them, despite there being no future chance of profit from the deals.

(All contributions from Newcastle fans welcome, send articles (as well as ideas/suggestions) to [email protected])

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