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Opinion

The 9 Rafa Benitez 2018/19 Newcastle United signings rated – Hit, miss, or disaster

4 weeks ago
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In total, Rafa Benitez made nine Newcastle United signings in the 2018/19 Premier League transfer windows.

Seven players recruited in summer 2018, then another two in January 2019.

In total, it was six players brought in on permanent deals, three loan signings.

Time to look back and see how each one performed, rating out of 10:

Martin Dubravka – 8

Maybe at risk of being taken for granted by some Newcastle fans as time moves on, Newcastle triggering a £4m buying clause after a successful loan.

Only two clubs outside the top four conceded less goals than Dubravka’s/Newcastle’s 48.

Made the odd mistake in the second half of the season but superb overall, has now conceded only 59 goals in 50 PL games since he arrived in January 2018. That is pretty special playing for a team fighting relegation in the 18 months he has been here.

Ki Sung-yeung – 5.5

Did kind of ok overall after coming in on a free.

Had a purple patch when getting into the team in November and helped spark a mini run of wins.

Never really reached that level again and ended the season with no goals and one assist from 14 PL starts and 4 appearances from the bench.

Kenedy – 1

A disaster.

Rafa Benitez did everything he could to get something out of the Chelsea loan signing but even he ran out of patience.

Ended the season with one PL goal and one assist from 14 PL starts and 11 appearances from the bench.

Not a single PL start after Boxing Day.

Fabian Schar – 9.5

The Swiss international played in 24 Premier League games this past season and Newcastle won twelve and drew five of them, picking up 41 points.

In his absence the team won none of the other 14 games, only picking up four from a possible 42 points.

Also ended up third top NUFC scorer (four goals), scoring some crackers. Looked a real quality player, especially with the ability to bring the ball out of defence.

Even better, a relegation clause meant Deportivo sold him to NUFC for only £3m.

Yoshinori Muto – 1.5

In Mike Ashley’s austerity Newcastle United, summer 2018 saw Muto the biggest signing of the window at £9.5m.

Only 5 PL starts and 12 appearances off the bench.

Scored his only goal at Old Trafford in the 3-2 defeat and difficult to remember any other even half-decent contribution. Coincidentally, that OT game also saw Kenedy’s only goal and decent performance of the season.

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Salomon Rondon – 9

It could/would have been a 10 if Rondon had arrived ready to start the 2018/19 season, instead Ashley delayed it to save a few quid meaning the striker had to play catch up on fitness.

Newcastle scored 42 PL goals and Salomon Rondon was directly involved in 18 of them, 11 goals and 7 assists.

Should be a no-brainer to buy him this summer, should be…

Federico Fernandez – 7

Lejeune’s pre-season injury saw Rafa bring in the former Argentine international on deadline day for £6m.

Covered brilliantly for the Frenchman and was arguably Newcastle’s best player in the first half of the season.

Once Lejeune was back, he was sidelined. Made 17 PL starts and 2 appearances off the bench, only two of the starts came after December.

Antonio Barreca – 1

A quite pointless loan signing.

Played only four minutes and indeed only got on the bench three times.

In the crazy world of Mike Ashley, there is probably more chance of Newcastle signing Barreca than Rondon.

Miguel Almiron – 7.5

Goals and assists would have taken him even higher but the £21m signing was key to Newcastle’s eventual survival.

Changed the way the team played and his pace and direct running with the ball helped others, especially Ayoze Perez.

Bottom line is that his 10 PL appearances produced six wins, two draws and only two defeats, meaning 20 points in his 10 games, whilst the team picked up only 25 points from the other 28 matches.

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