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The 23 Rafa Benitez Newcastle United signings – The good, the bad and the ugly

1 year ago

Rafa Benitez lasted just under three years and four months at Newcastle United.

The Spaniard signing a three year deal despite the club being in the Championship.

Sadly, after the season ended it became apparent that Mike Ashley was determined to get rid of Rafa Benitez and return to having a patsy head coach, rather than a manager.

A key reason being the owner wanted to be in full control of transfers in and out, rather than having a meddling top class manager expecting to be the main guide on who should be bought and sold.

Steve Bruce brought in with only the authority to train and pick the team, whilst decisions on signings are made by persons unknown in the Mike Ashley set-up.

In six transfer windows, Rafa Benitez recruited 23 players in total on permanent (not loan) deals.

Here I have listed all 23 from the very best signings to the very worst.

Those names in bold are those where I think you can argue either way, whilst those above that line are good/excellent signings in my opinion, those below the line being poor/terrible signings.

I have factored in the price that was paid as well, in helping to determine where on the list signings should be:

Fabian Schar

Martin Dubravka

Florian Lejeune

Matt Ritchie

Isaac Hayden

Dwight Gayle

Miguel Almiron

Ciaran Clark

Mohammed Diame

DeAndre Yedlin

Federico Fernandez

Mikel Merino

Daryl Murphy

Christian Atsu


Ki Sung-yeung

Javier Manquillo

Grant Hanley

Jesus Gamez

Matz Sels

Achraf Lazaar

Yoshinori Muto

Jacob Murphy

A few observations.

With such a turnover of players needed in that first transfer window, Rafa Benitez brought in a massive 12 signings, 11 permanent ones and Atsu later became permanent.

With so many signings needed, you have to assume that Rafa was having to rely on others at times to help decide who to bring in. Plus with so many arriving, there had to be a few duds such as Lazaar, Sels and Gamez.

As for signings once in the Premier League, as we all know, in most cases Rafa Benitez was having to shop on a tight budget and paying less for players than was ideal. As in find a Premier League centre-forward for £5m (Joselu).

Similarly, the two bottom of the list cost around £10m each BUT finding creative players and goalscorers to do the business in the Premier League at those prices is still a massive challenge.


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