It is no secret that Rafa Benitez was badly let down in last summer’s transfer market by Mike Ashley.
Especially after being blocked by Mike Ashley from signing anybody in January 2017, the assumption was that this simply meant there would be more money to spend as Newcastle readied themselves for a return to the Premier League.
Nobody could have guessed just how wrong that would prove.
Rafa Benitez was left scratching around for bargains and the one thing that really amplified how bad things were at Newcastle, was the fact that fellow promoted clubs Brighton and Huddersfield both had a net spend of over £40m. Newcastle’s was around a third of that.
Both Huddersfield and Brighton smashed their transfer records last summer, Newcastle United’s transfer record is now 13 years old, with every other Premier League club having broken theirs in the last year or two.
The January transfer window is now 20 days in, Rafa Benitez stated in December that he ideally wanted all his signings in by 15 January or at the very latest 20 January, to enable him to have time to work with them.
As Rafa is left with the exact same players he had at midnight on 31 December, both Brighton and Huddersfield have once again broken their transfer records.
On Friday, Chris Hughton brought in Jurgen Locadia from PSV, the striker/winger has won a couple of Dutch titles and played Champions League football, a new £14m record set for Brighton.
Brighton had already signed Viktor Gyokeres this window but the 19 year old is more one for the future.
Meanwhile, Huddersfield have been busy as well whilst Mike Ashley has blocked any Newcastle signings so far, the Terriers bringing in defender Terence Kongolo from Monaco on loan.
Then following that up with attacking midfielder Alex Pritchard from Norwich.
His transfer fee is undisclosed with estimates from £11m up to £14m but as he went for £8m from Spurs to Norwich 18 months earlier, with the transfer inflation we have seen, it is fair to say his transfer fee was probably marginally higher than the then record £11.5m Huddersfield paid for Seve Mounie in the summer.
Friday brought more positive news with Rafa Benitez saying Mike Ashley had now indicated that signings could be agreed but it does beg the question as to if that is the case now, why wasn’t Ashley backing his manager in the first three weeks of January? Particularly as Rafa also revealed yesterday that Ashley had told him a few weeks ago that there was definitely no takeover of the club happening.
When the transfer window opened, there were still 17 Premier League games remaining, by 7.30pm tonight there will be 14 left to play.
With then Burnley on 31 January and Palace on 4 February, even if Newcastle made signings in the very closing stages of the transfer window, those players would almost definitely not be able to start against Burnley and probably unlikely to, in Rafa’s eyes, to have had enough preparation for Palace.
By that time there will be only 12 games remaining and arguably very few where Newcastle would be fancied to pick up any points, having the toughest run-in of any club.
Better late than never but you can’t help still be sceptical that Mike Ashley will keep these latest promises to Rafa Benitez.
The January transfer window closes in England at 11pm on Wednesday 31 January, the same as France, Germany, Italy and Spain.
Confirmed Premier League transfers so far in January as listed by BBC Sport:
1 January 2018
Viktor Gyokeres [IF Brommapojkarna – Brighton] Undisclosed
Adrien Silva [Sporting Lisbon – Leicester] £22m
Virgil van Dijk [Southampton – Liverpool] £75m
Terence Kongolo [Monaco – Huddersfield] Loan
Konstantinos Mavropanos [PAS Giannina – Arsenal] Undisclosed
Ross Barkley [Everton – Chelsea] £15m
Cenk Tosun [Besiktas – Everton] £27m
Moritz Bauer [Rubin Kazan – Stoke] Undisclosed
Georges-Kevin Nkoudou [Tottenham – Burnley] Loan
Alex Pritchard [Norwich – Huddersfield] Undisclosed
Fousseni Diabate [Gazelec Ajaccio – Leicester] Undisclosed
Theo Walcott [Arsenal – Everton] £20m+
Kostas Stafylidis [Augsburg – Stoke] Loan
Jurgen Locadia [PSV Eindhoven – Brighton] £14m