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Opinion

The Mike Ashley summer Newcastle United transfer policy now explained

3 years ago
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The Newcastle United transfer policy is difficult enough to work out or predict at the best of times.

This summer though has taken it to a whole new level.

So many times, fans are left wondering after a transfer window closes, what actually happened there?

Fair to say that what Mike Ashley sees and what the rest of us see, is very much different.

Only eight days now until the transfer window closes and only Joelinton coming in so far despite losing half a dozen of the first team squad this summer.

There is talk of a number of signings still potentially being made at this very late stage but seemingly no real urgency shown, or indeed certainty that anybody extra will come in.

How do you explain this?

Well, I think like a complicated jigsaw, you have to wait a while and have a bit of a fuller picture, with enough pieces in place to start to make an educated guess.

Mike Ashley is a law to himself but I do think I have now worked out what he has (and hasn’t) done and why this summer, even though I might not like it.

Joelinton

The only signing made this summer, so far…

Mike Ashley and Newcastle United have confirmed that this signing was agreed back in February. For whatever reason(s), rightly or wrongly Ashley was determined to spend (an alleged) £40m on this particular striker. Rafa Benitez wouldn’t go along with this plan, or indeed many others of the owner’s, so no chance of him staying of course.

As for purely the Newcastle United transfer policy this summer, this is a like for like signing replacing Salomon Rondon. Mike Ashley has made clear he had no intention of ever allowing the club to buy Rondon and so in February, the club’s owner knew he had to be replaced, Joelinton the choice made five months ago.

Miguel Almiron

For those waiting on Ayoze Perez to be replaced, I will put you out of your misery.

Mike Ashley approved the replacement six months ago.

Perez had made clear for some time he was going to leave and this summer it was happening. With only two years left on the Spaniard’s contract, something had to happen and Mike Ashley was certainly not going to pay the kind of wages he would have wanted anyway.

Ashley knew he could get around £20m for the striker this summer and the fact Leicester paid the full £30m release clause due to Perez’ form in his last few months at NUFC was just a big bonus.

So when Miguel Almiron arrived in January he was actually a summer 2019 signing, not a January 2019 one, Atlanta United eventually backing down on their valuation which allowed Ashley to get Perez’ replacement in advance. The NUFC owner making a £9m profit on the deals.

The fact that Almiron and Perez ended up making an excellent attacking trio with Rondon was irrelevant to Mike Ashley. He had his plan and he was sticking to it. Almiron replacing Perez rather than thinking  just imagining what could happen if keeping both of them along with Rondon (or signing Joelinton).

Sean Longstaff

The 21 year old Geordie is not a new signing of course.

However, for Mike Ashley I think he sees it as a straight swap for Mohamed Diame. The experienced midfielder allowed to leave and no need to buy a replacement as Longstaff had impressed briefly last season before injury struck. Also in Ashley’s eyes is probably a belief that Jack Colback coming back, with Rafa out the way now, to see out the remaining season of his six year contract, would be adequate cover anyway for Diame even if anything happened with Longstaff, such as injury problems or selling him…

The central issue/problem

The key to Mike Ashley’s thinking is that rather than Rafa Benitez working his magic, the NUFC owner chooses to believe that the team/squad these past two seasons was more than good enough to stay up both times, no matter who had been the manager.

So if you believe that, you see no desperate need for added quality and/or quantity. Simply a case of replacing like with like.

This to me explains the total lack of urgency this summer. I honestly think that with Almiron signed in January and Joelinton sorted in February, Mike Ashley didn’t see any need to plan any signings (other than that long-term agreed Joelinton deal) this summer, no wonder Rafa knew he was wasting his time.

Newcastle fans see their team/squad as having flown by the seat of their pants these last two years, unlike the owner.

Very lucky overall with lack of major injuries to key players (Lejeune a big miss but the one position where there is some quality in depth).

The glaring problem that we have got away with is on both sides, left and right, front and back.

Yedlin, Manquillo, Lazaar, Aarons, Murphy aren’t what is needed, whilst Paul Dummett has had ongoing injury issues and can’t go over the halfway line, with so much reliance on Matt Ritchie to play left and right wings and then left wing-back for so much of last season.

We have been getting away with it and after Ritchie’s injury last night at Hibs, if it proves a bad one, it will be interesting to see if Mike Ashley then allows money to be spent on a decent quality replacement, if one is willing to come.

The bench last night was shocking, especially when it comes to Premier League alternatives in midfield and up front.

The squad is so weak and needed at least half a dozen signings to come in and strengthen in all kinds of positions.

There is no PL quality forward cover or indeed at goalkeeper if anything happened to Dubravka, the Slovakian has spoilt us all by playing 50 PL games in a row and making us forget about the problems in that position that preceded his arrival.

When you add the weaknesses at full-back/wing-back and on both wings, you can’t just be relying on such a small number of decent quality players to get us through another season.

Mike Ashley may well buy one or two more players to add to the £7m net spend so far but I wouldn’t count on it. I think he is sitting back and will only allow the likes of N’Soki and Saint-Maximin to be possibly signed if the clubs/players back down in terms of what they want.

Newcastle fans can see the massive risks with such a policy but despite two relegations in only 10 PL seasons so far and three or four near misses, Mike Ashley just doesn’t see it.

If I had to guess, Newcastle might buy another one but I think Ashley will definitely use up the two Premier League loans he is able to make, to at least make it look like he has made some effort.

You and me may think it would be mad but I really believe there is a chance of Kenedy coming back for a third loan, despite last season’s embarrassing no-show. He won’t be involved at Chelsea this coming season and difficult to see any other PL club taking him, so I think we could have him back here, especially with Ritchie now injured, with PR spin talking of him bouncing back to the form of his first loan spell and benefiting from another Brazilian now here etc etc. Remember, you read it here first.

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