The only teenager included, Victor Fernandez flew to Ireland with the Newcastle United first team squad for pre-season training.
Arriving from UE Cornella in February, the then 18 year old Spaniard is one of an ever increasing number of younger players brought in by Rafa Bentez, to try and improve the quality at the younger age levels.
Fernandez immediately looked a different proposition potentially to other young recruits, going straight into the Under 23s set-up (rather than the Academy) and playing games and scoring goals.
You can’t afford to get too carried away and indeed on his return to England on Friday night, rather than making his way to Preston for the friendly on Saturday, he instead headed back to Tyneside to play in front of 622 at Gateshead International Stadium.
The now 19 year old Spaniard scored a brilliant goal (watch HERE) though in a 3-0 win over Gateshead and generally looked a class above his Under 23 (reserve) teammates.
In a transfer window where Newcastle fans are still waiting for real excitement/inspiration, it hardly helped when it was revealed earlier today that top NUFC Academy prospect 17 year old Lewis Gibson is set to sign for Everton for £6m.
However, how uplifting would it be if Victor Fernandez can come through to first team level in the next 18 months or so and give fans hope that Rafa Benitez can bring in talented young players from his home country ‘under the radar’.
You can’t base your whole transfer strategy on such bargains but it is clear that in this ever inflated transfer market, clubs need to look to add extra strands of value, identifying talent of the future before prices escalate further.
Peter Beardsley talking about Victor Fernandez:
“Physically, he looks a different shape and size, but the big thing he needs to know is when and where to dribble.
“We didn’t have a go at him, but basically, he scored an unbelievable goal, and then tried to nutmeg somebody just outside our box.
“So, there are things that he has to learn, but he’s that type of player…there’s a time and a place, as we told him, but that takes nothing away from the goal.
“He didn’t train with us at all this week and he only flew into Manchester last night, and then he came back to the North East with the other senior players: Jamie Sterry, Matt Ritchie, etc etc.
“We didn’t see him until quarter to twelve (on Saturday) but I’m not complaining, because we know Victor well and we know he’s a good kid.”
“To be fair, I think the pitch helped us (at Gateshead) today, I’m not blaming Darlington but the pitch was poor on Monday.
“Today it was really good – smooth, slick, and the bit of rain before kick-off helped because of what we like to do…we like to pass the ball and move, and I thought some of the football was really, really good.
“This is what we live for, watching the players on the pitch is the best part of the job.
“We are looking for individuals who can go in the first team, whether that’s tomorrow or a year from now – it is what we do.
“In an ideal world you want to win, but it’s not the be all and end all, we don’t have to win every game. It’s more about how we play, and as you saw, we played well today.”
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