This summer was always going to be a busy one for Rafa Benitez and Newcastle United.
A lot of players not up to the (Premier League) job needing to be found new homes.
Many players needed who can do the (Premier League) job.
The bottom line is that there is a very clear connection between the two things.
To help get the right signings in, Newcastle United have to be able to shift as many as possible of the players who are not good enough.
We had already seen Florian Thauvin depart for a reported fee of £10m after a permanent deal clause was inserted in last season’s loan deal at Marseille.
On top of that, it has also been confirmed that Vurnon Anita, Haris Vuckic, Sammy Ameobi, Lubomir Satka and a host of younger players have all been allowed to leave, with no new contract offered. In addition, Yoan Gouffran has failed as yet to agree a short-term new deal, so every chance he will also move on.
Thursday morning though has seen Newcastle United release an official statement, revealing that defender Kevin Mbabu has been sold.
The 22 year old has been sold for an ‘undisclosed fee’ to BSC Young Boys, where he spent the whole of the past season on loan.
He, in my opinion, is NOT one we should have sold, or needed to.
Yes, in Rafa we do indeed trust, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t also have our own opinions and that sometimes, the Newcastle boss might just get it wrong. Signings such as Lazaar and Sels proving that Rafa Benitez is indeed just a mere mortal, like the rest of us, prone to sometimes things not working out as intended.
Selling Mbabu can’t have been too difficult, a young promising defender who wouldn’t have been on massive wages and who had shown good form in the season just gone.
Which brings us to…Emmanuel Riviere, Aleksandar Mitrovic, Henri Saivet, Siem de Jong, Achraf Lazaar, Matz Sels, Grant Hanley and many more.
These are players who are on (relatively) massive wages and haven’t shown great form for Newcastle, or their loan clubs this past year (and beyond in certain cases).
With Thauvin, Anita, Mbabu and others already leaving, that is £10m+ in transfer fees and a lot of wages saved, with only £6.2m Christian Atsu coming into the club.
However, those transfer fees and wages saved, is only the tip of the iceberg if Rafa can weave his magic and move Riviere, de Jong, Mitrovic and others along.
It won’t be easy though, with no doubt Newcastle having had to subsidise the wages of Saivet, de Jong, Riviere and Krul this past year.
Mike Ashley’s disastrous transfer policy leaving NUFC with so many players not good enough for the Premier League but on PL wages and contracts that are far too long (for example Riviere still having three years of a six year contract remaining, the same being the case for Siem de Jong).
If you add Chancel Mbemba to the mix as he doesn’t appear wanted by Rafa, then also factor in some of Rafa’s signings that were short-term or haven’t worked out (Murphy, Lazaar, Gamez, Sels, Hanley, Diame), if you can get other clubs to take on these players and their wages, the Newcastle squad can start to take shape.
People talk of Rafa only maybe wanting/needing five or six new players this summer but I foresee similar to last season and there being closer to the 12 brought in a year ago.
On top of the £10m+ for Thauvin & Mbaba, I think you could easily add another £20m/£25m or more, if buyers are found for Mitrovic, Mbemba, de Jong, Roviere, Krul and others.
A manager’s skills in the transfer market are arguably just as important when it comes to being able to move the right players on, as well as bringing in the right ones to complement what you have already got.
Only 18 days until pre-season starts and 58 days until the Premier League kicks off, good luck Rafa – you are going to need it!
(All contributions from Newcastle fans welcome, send articles (as well as ideas/suggestions) to [email protected])