When will the Newcastle signings be arriving?
That is pretty much the only question on the lips of supporters at this moment in time.
Plenty of speculation of course and quite amusing that nobody in the national media appears to realise that Newcastle have of course already made one signing this summer.
Every report/exclusive talking of United being about to make their first signing this summer, overlooking the fact that Christian Atsu has already been bought for £6.2m.
However, we all of course know that far more is needed this summer.
The clock is ticking and whilst there is complete faith in Rafa Benitez, fans will be only able to rest easy once the club actually gets Newcastle signings over the line.
It is now 48 days since the Championship season ended and 49 days until the Premier League kicks off.
We have nine days before pre-season training begins for Newcastle and 20 days until the first (Hearts away – 14 July) of five pre-season friendlies confirmed so far.
Last summer Newcastle United made signings on the following dates:
29 June – Matz Sels
1 July – Dwight Gayle
1 July – Matt Ritchie
8 July – Jesus Gamez
11 July – Isaac Hayden
21 July – Grant Hanley
2 August – Ciaran Clark
2 August – Mohamed Diame
23 August – DeAndre Yedlin
27 August – Achraf Lazaar
27 August – Daryl Murphy
30 August – Christian Atsu
The signings roughly falling into two groups.
The squad flew out to Ireland on 10 July 2016 and the first four signings (Sels, Gayle, Ritchie and Gamez) were on the plane, with Isaac Hayden then joining them a day later (11 July) after signings.
All five were available for the entire pre-season friendly schedule and all featured in the first friendly again Bohemians on 16 July 2016.
Grant Hanley then signed on 21 July and was then available for the final two friendlies, playing his first game in a Newcastle shirt against Southend on 26 July.
When the season kicked off on 5 August 2016, all six of those signings were included, with Sels, Hanley, Ritchie, Gayle and Hayden all starting, Gamez on the bench.
The six signings that came later, generally took far longer to be involved, their first Championship starts being: Atsu (1 October 2016), Daryl Murphy (21 January 2017), Ciaran Clark (17 August 2016), Achraf Lazaar (never started a league game), Mohamed Diame (13 August 2016), and DeAndre Yedlin (24 September 2017).
The suggestion maybe being that Rafa Benitez looked to get key signings in early and who he looked at as first 11 players (Sels, Ritchie, Hayden and Gayle), then the later Newcastle signings (Murphy, Yedlin, Lazaar and Atsu) who were seen as extra insurance.
Both Diame and Clark arrived very early in August (both signed on the 2nd) ahead of the season but were given a little time before getting starts (11 and 15 days respectively) – both going on to be first team regulars for Rafa Benitez.
The Premier League is obviously going to be that much harder again and you have to think that Rafa wants to repeat the process, getting key signings in place as soon as possible – Hayden, Ritchie and Gayle proving key to Newcastle’s title win last season.
I won’t be too worried if credible first team players aren’t signed next week BUT if we go towards mid-July without them in place, I think it is then going to prove so much tougher this coming season.
Looking further back in time, easily the best season in Mike Ashley’s 10 years at the club, was the fifth place finish in 2011/12.
The summer of 2011 saw Yohan Cabaye signed on 10 June and Demba Ba the 17 June, both players central to Newcastle’s success that season.
Rafa Benitez needs every factor in his favour this season and as someone who has made a reputation as a manager who relentlessly drills his players to get the very best out of them, the chance to work with his key players in pre-season is surely an essential to Newcastle United having their best chance of success.