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Mike Ashley pays £43m for a striker who doesn’t like going in the box – Unbelievable

8 months ago
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Any conversation about the health, or otherwise, of Newcastle United these days, tends to include Mike Ashley, Steve Bruce, Rafa Benitez and Joelinton.

Newcastle United is a strange club, particularly so under this owner.

Though in a few weeks in summer 2019, Mike Ashley far surpassed anything, that any of us had seen before.

Ashley forced out Champions League, double La Liga, double Europa League winning manager Rafa Benitez, so he could then go and pay £4m compensation for Championship manager Steve Bruce, before then six days later (after Bruce appointed) paying £43m (Mike Ashley indicated transfer was actually this, not £40m) for Joelinton.

It perhaps says everything that whilst the Newcastle United fanbase were outraged by this turn of events (Mike Ashley having previously refused to properly support Rafa in any meaningful way), they weren’t too surprised.

In the aftermath of this chain of events, Mike Ashley was full of it, using one of his media mates Martin Samuel to revel in what he (Ashley) had ‘achieved’:

Part of that Mike Ashley PR statement in The Mail – 26 July 2019:

‘He [Rafa Benitez] thought the £40m for Joelinton wasn’t worth it. It’s too much and the club shouldn’t spend it.

‘And very occasionally, I get to be me in this world.

“So here’s the deal. I’ll pay £20m of it personally. Nothing to do with the club. Above and beyond the budget. Rafa valued him at £20m. So that’s what would come out of the club budget. The rest, £23m – I’ll pay. And he [Rafa Benitez] still didn’t sign it off.

‘Looking back, I think he knew for a long time he was going to China because it was like we couldn’t do anything. Joelinton was the test.

‘Why on earth would you not want that? As a football manager, with all the things you have said, why wouldn’t you want Joelinton?’

At the time you thought this was absolute madness from Mike Ashley, talk about cutting your nose off to spite your face.

After a £100m+ net spend since the NUFC Head Coach’s appointment and 18 months now of seeing both Steve Bruce and Joelinton ‘in action’…absolute madness doesn’t really come anywhere remotely close to describe this / these act(s) of self-harm.

Joelinton found himself at the very heart of this latest Mike Ashley madness and the question still remains, will always remain, just why was he so desperate for Joelinton to be signed at all costs? Having starved Rafa Benitez of funds, insisting on spending at least twice as much on a player than he had ever allowed in the past or since.

This is what we have seen from Joelinton at Newcastle United:

Time at club – 18 months

Premier League appearances – 53 (Bruce leaving him as an unused sub in the 2-1 win over Everton in November 2020, the only PL game he hasn’t featured in)

Premier League starts – 43

Premier League sub appearances – 10

Premier League minutes played – 3,652

Premier League goals – 3

Premier League assists – 4

Premier League hours / minutes per goal – 20 hours and 17 minutes

Premier League hours / minutes per assist – 15 hours and 13 minutes

Length of contract at NUFC remaining – four and a half years (June 2025)

Age – 24 (turns 25 in August 2021)

Towards the end of last (2019/20) season, Steve Bruce made a couple of remarkable admissions.

The NUFC Head Coach admitting that Joelinton wasn’t really a centre-forward and also, wasn’t a natural goalscorer.

Steve Bruce has repeatedly stated that the Joelinton signing wouldn’t have happened without his say so, so exactly why did he (and Mike Ashley) think that a striker (player…) whose best league season was eight goals in the Austrian league, was worth £40m / £43m?

Could just possibly, Rafa Benitez have had a little bit more idea than the pair of them…?

Halfway through his second Premier League season, we now see things actually getting worse when it comes to the goal threat posed by Newcastle United’s record signing.

Mike Ashley and Steve Bruce now have a £43m / £40m striker who doesn’t even like going in the box.

In open play, Newcastle actually managed to deliver a few balls into the Leicester penalty area, yet Joelinton was never in the picture.

Difficult to know where any of us go from here because so long as Mike Ashley and Steve Bruce remain at the club, it looks obvious that Joelinton will remain on the pitch.

If you wanted to sum up the shambles that is Newcastle United, you only need to point to the chain of command from absent landlord / owner Mike Ashley, to hide and seek champion Lee Charnley sleeping in the stationery cupboard, to Steve Bruce looking completely vacant at the side of the pitch, whilst Joelinton wanders around the pitch very slowly and refuses to enter the box.

The pundits meanwhile tell deluded fans to be careful what they wish for…

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