Free transfers are back on the agenda for Newcastle United.
That is, according to various newspapers.
One local north east paper in particular, seems to be relentlessly pushing this kind of story, putting out list after list of possible free transfers coming to Newcastle, from the Premier League and other European leagues.
You understand that in this era of NUFC misery, the papers desperately looking for positivity/a story, but surely signing of big name players on free transfers is exactly the least likely thing to happen at the moment.
For starters, the vast majority of free transfers are players who are very much at the wrong end of their careers. Footballers with no resale value whatsoever, I can really see Mike Ashley going for that, not.
As for any younger players that end up as a free transfer, you have to really ask yourself why?
Either their clubs don’t want them any longer and haven’t offered a new contract, which of course raises loads of questions.
Whilst if a player has ensured a situation where they can leave as a free agent, and get higher wages because of no transfer fee, then I think you would have to doubt their character and commitment for any club.
On the subject of wages, that is surely the biggest obstacle when it comes to Newcastle United. We have repeatedly been told that the club struggle to sign players as much because of a refusal to pay market price wages, as it is the transfer fees stopping NUFC landing players.
So if Mike Ashley refuses to allow market level wages to be paid for normal signings who could be sold one day, what chance is there of ageing big name former top stars being signed, with far far higher wages? Zero chance is the obvious answer to that.
It is one thing giving a very average squad player such as K Sung-yeung (to replace Mikel Merino who was sold for £10m) a two year contract after Swansea didn’t keep him on – but a very different thing to make an ageing former top player massive wages, instantly making him your biggest earner.
The reality is that the clubs who sign free transfer players who still retain a high level of ability and fitness, are the same ones who are prepared to buy good quality players.
Newcastle United are not one of those clubs, obviously.
I wouldn’t care if Newcastle did go down the route of bringing in two or tree older players on massive wages because it would at least show some kind of plan to improve the squad.
Instead, this summer Rafa Benitez was forced to look for bargains where there was minimal/no competition for the players, whether it was free transfers (Ki), loans (Rondon and Kenedy), or when buying the odd player (Schar, Fernandez).
Yes, we all hope Rondon and Kenedy can do the business but reality was that there was no queue of clubs battling Newcastle for their signature. A striker who had scored 24 Premier League goals in three years at West Brom and a winger who has still only played around 20 league games at a top level.
Nothing wrong with these signings but they should have been as well as a number of other more ambitious (almost certainly more expensive) other signings.