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Opinion

When we find out which of these 10 people decided to sign £40m Joelinton it will tell us so much

3 months ago
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Who signed Joelinton?

Or more to the point, who made the decision to buy Joelinton and that he was worth £40m of Newcastle United’s money?

The signing stunning so many people, both that Mike Ashley was suddenly allowing this figure to be spent on just one player, after years of denying Rafa Benitez any kind of proper investment in the squad.

As well as, why this 22 year old Brazilian was the must have signing, Mike Ashley making clear that he thought it was such a no-brainer even at this £40m price tag, despite the striker’s best season so far being scoring eight goals in the dizzy heights of the Austrian domestic league.

It would tell us so much if only we knew who made the decision, the person whose opinion was relied on to make the purchase.

Here are 10 possible candidates:

Lee Charnley

Graham Carr

Steve Nickson

Mike Ashley

Justin Barnes

Keith Bishop

Rafa Benitez

Dennis Wise

Steve Bruce

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It brings to mind one of those classic soap opera cliffhangers. no doubt there will be plenty in modern day ones but for fans of a certain age it will always be that classic ‘Who shot JR’ when Dallas was the headline show some 40 years ago.

So in the spirit of that (and a bit of Cluedo thrown in), was it Lee Charnley in the stationery cupboard, Mike Ashley as he barfed into the pub fireplace, or is Graham Carr still lurking in the background, or possible Dennis Wise who is regularly seen socialising with the NUFC owner, maybe even more amazingly it could be Steve Bruce as he himself claims – despite the deal being agree some five months before he took on the role of Ashley’s head coach/stooge.

On a serious note though, it would give us so much more of an idea of what exactly has/is happening at Newcastle United and who Mike Ashley relies on to make the biggest and most important decisions.

Of the 10 names above, the easiest to apparently cross off is Rafa Benitez.

Which is of course at the heart of the debate.

Mike Ashley says that when Joelinton was brought up as a transfer target, Rafa Benitez said that he looked a decent player but if Newcastle should go for him, £20m was the very most he was worth on what he had shown so far.

Ashley was incredulous at this and in his PR piece in The Mail, claimed that he’d even told Rafa that he (Ashley) would personally pay the other £23m (Mike Ashley seeming to claim that the price tag was actually £43m and not £40m). The situation getting even more bizarre, considering that until Almiron arrived on January 31 2019, Ashley had refused to even allow Rafa Benitez to spend more than £10m on any player.

I can understand not needing Rafa Benitez to take a leading role on every signing and/or devoting significant time to any deal BUT this was different.

When you add the six years of wages that were also being committed to, you must be talking an overall deal of at least £70m for Joelinton.

The scouts etc are of course the ones who will largely put names forward after players have being watched over a period of time but a £70m decision would naturally be a huge one that only two people at the most could decide.

So when it came to Joelinton, it was a case of either:

Mike Ashley was the one who gave the final agreement to spend the money AND he was the one who decided Joelinton was worth £40m and had to be recruited.

Or

Mike Ashley was the one who gave the final agreement to spend the money BUT relied on the judgement of somebody else that Joelinton was worth £40m (or £43m…) and had to be recruited.

In Ashley’s mad world, I wouldn’t put it past him on that first scenario but I think reality is that it was the second one.

With such a massive deal, who would you trust to have better judgement than a manager who has won the Champions League, two La Liga titles, two Europa Leagues etc etc?

In the newspapers they report about the club’s ‘recruitment team’ bringing in the signings but disappointingly, I have never ever seen any pressing of the club on who exactly is the main person when deciding on which signings, especially £70m deals.

Steve Nickson is the chief scout/head of recruitment but (no disrespect to him) he came through the ranks at the club, in the past having responsibility to identify players for the levels underneath the first team.

On a deal such as Joelinton, I just don’t see how you would rely more on say Steve Nickson than Rafa Benitez, it makes zero sense.

At clubs where they have experienced big hitters as Directors of Football then it would at least make some sense – but that isn’t the case at NUFC.

We all know Lee Charnley is only a puppet and doesn’t act or get paid like a normal MD/CEO of a Premier League club, with instead Justin Barnes from Mike Ashley’s inner circle being the shadowy figure dictating the biggest off-field decisions at Newcastle United.

So who is the shadowy figure who makes the big football decisions, such as which players are bought and sold, now Mike Ashley has forced out Rafa Benitez?

My money would be on either Graham Carr or Dennis Wise, two people who Mike Ashley previously openly employed to make those decisions.

The question of ‘Who signed Joelinton’ might never be answered but if it is, it would tell us so much about how this club ends up in such a mess.

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