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As Newcastle fans ask where the other £28m has gone, Steve Bruce says he is targeting free transfers

11 months ago

Steve Bruce has been talking about buying players once again.

Or rather, not buying them.

The Newcastle United Head Coach once again reining back any expectations of strengthening the team/squad in January.

He talks about other clubs not wanting to let players leave in a January window which is fair enough.

However, down the years Newcastle have made some excellent signings in the mid-season window, the likes of Cisse, Dubravka, Debuchy, Sissoko, Almiron and Kenedy.

Less convincing is Steve Bruce giving the reason/excuse of potentially not buying/signing players next month because he hasn’t seen what the likes of Lejeune, Gayle and Muto can do yet in the first team.

Well, I don’t think any of us would see any urgency in signing a centre-back as it is the only position where NUFC have any strength in depth. Whilst Steve Bruce will know all about Dwight Gayle’s strengths and weaknesses down the years in English football plus of course he has chosen to give him only 44 minutes on the pitch so far and has totally frozen Muto out.

He has also said in past interviews that his big priority in this January window was to bring in a quality central midfielder.

Disappointing as well to see Steve Bruce diluting/deflecting the question about this transfer window, by talking about the following one.

He claims they already have ‘two or three things in place’, why does he make a habit of keep feeding these future positives out in press conferences? It makes it all sound like a bit of a PR offensive.

Before he had even taken charge of a Newcastle game, at his pre-Arsenal press conference Steve Bruce chose to volunteer the ‘fact’ that at least a handful of key players were expected to sign new contracts soon.

Four months later and only Martin Dubravaka has signed a new deal despite regular mentions from the Head Coach that others are expected to do the same…sometime.

Ironically, Steve Bruce now says that Newcastle United are now targeting players at other clubs who will be out of contract next summer.

Considering the majority of this Newcastle first team squad have 18 months at the most left on their deals, with a fair few set to be out of contract in only six months time, securing the likes of Fernandez surely should be a priority rather than him potentially walking away as a free agent this summer.

Plus of course the reality is that signing  free transfers is not really a Mike Ashley thing anyway.

Usually you will be talking about older rather than younger players and to get the ones capable of doing well in the Premier League you need to compete in terms of offering massive wages, due to the fact of no transfer fee, something which Mike Ashley has refused to do. Signing somebody like Andy Carroll is one thing but signing somebody who could actually start games and score goals is a far more expensive project.

These ongoing/increasing messages from the club/Steve Bruce seem a lot to do with once again managing fan expectations (down), it seems a fitting time to ask where has the missing £28m has gone?

Back in April of this year, Lee Charnley insisted that there would be £61m available to be spent on signings in the next year (summer 2019 window and the January 2020 one), plus money from the sales of any players.

This summer gone, Newcastle paid out a maximum of £65m on Joelinton – £40m, Krafth – £5m and Saint-Maximin – £20m (although a lot of reports put that figure at £16.5m). Then the club recouped £30m for Perez and £2m for Josulu. So with £65m (at the most) spent on buying players and recouping £32m, that means a net spend of £33m. Meaning there should be around £28m available to spend in January…

I think that £28m (and any extra cash from January sales) should be spent next month and my priorities would be a goalscorer and doing a deal to tie up Jetro Willems on a permanent transfer for the reported £10m buying clause.

Mike Ashley has repeatedly refused to be proactive in getting essential transfers done and much of Rafa Benitez’ unhappiness was to do with the club refusing to act quickly to land his first choice targets.

At the very least, Newcastle should be completing a permanent deal for Willems ASAP, instead of running the risk of waiting until the summer and other clubs making a move.

Steve Bruce talking about signing/not signing players:

“I have said all along, if there’s something that can improve us (signings in January) but if I’m brutally honest…

“I can’t see it in January because nobody wants to sell their players.

“If you are not any better than what you have got, then what is the point?

“I have been delighted with the squad so far but I still haven’t seen some of them.

“I haven’t seen Dwight Gayle really, I haven’t seen Muto really playing for me. I haven’t seen Lejeune play for me.

“There’s a few that I still haven’t seen play and that’s where you need time…it’s okay on the training ground, you could be the best player in the world on the training ground, but it’s a bit different playing in front of 50,000 on a Saturday.

“Until I see that, then I can’t make my mind up on someone.”

“There are plans of course (for the summer 2020 transfer window), there is a lot of water under the bridge until then but we have two or three things in place.

“I am sure all of us are not naive enough to not address the Bosman situation.

“It is always a good one for any club.

“We are in the process of that (looking at which players are set to be free transfers in the summer) like everybody else does.

“That’s no secret.

“We are working away to see who is out of contract and who might be available.”


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