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Opinion

Newcastle United January Transfer Window woes

3 weeks ago
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It’s been confirmed, as it always is, that Newcastle United have very little money to play with in the January Transfer Window, or should that be called the January Loan Window?

Once again, Newcastle will be hunting around the loan market to try and plaster over some holes in their squad in their quest to finish above three other Premier League teams after 38 games.

However, why do Newcastle have such a fixation on short-term loans in January, when it’s clear for all to see that these loan deals rarely, if ever, work out?

According to TransferMarkt, 12 players have joined United on loan in the January Window since the 2009/10 season when Fitz Hall and Patrick Van Aanholt joined to cover injuries in the squad. These signings were brought in purely to cover injuries and although never set the world alight, their goal was clear: provide adequate cover to keep the promotion charge alive, mission complete.

Then came a trio of January loan signings which, to this day, will still raise a chuckle, or a tear. Stephen Ireland from Aston Villa in 2011, Luuk De Jong from Borussia Monchengladbach in 2014 and Seydou Doumbia in 2016.

Ireland, De Jong and Doumbia made a combined 17 appearances for Newcastle, mainly due to the dozen goalless appearances made by the Dutchman during the late Alan Pardew-era.

You would think these three signings should be enough to deter any owner in splashing any sort of money on loan fees and wages in the future, however, it has only seemed to spur the determination to spend even more money on short-term “fixes”.

There’s one glaring omission to the next set of loan signings because, remarkably, one January loan signing has actually been a success at St James Park, and we’ll get onto him later. But, for now, here’s a list of 2018 and 2019’s loan signings: Islam Slimani from Leicester, Kenedy from Chelsea and Antonio Barreca from Monaco.

You remember Barreca right? He came on at Wembley against Spurs and then never played again. He’s now at Fiorentina on loan, apparently. And Islam Slimani, you know, that striker who came to us unfit and by the time he regained any sort of match fitness, he got himself suspended and only managed four games? He’s now banging them in for Barreca’s old-side Monaco, the world works in mysterious ways.

Kenedy is a very interesting loan sandwiched in between these two failures because, cast your minds back to the summer of 2018, and we were all convinced that we should be bringing the Brazilian back to Newcastle on a permanent basis. Within six months however, Kenedy had become a shadow the player we saw in early-2018 and by the time his loan ended, it seemed like we had dodged a bullet.

In late 2019, a spate of injuries around Christmas forced Newcastle to move into the loan market once again as they signed Danny Rose from Tottenham, Nabil Bentaleb from Schalke and Valentino Lazaro from Inter. Despite sometimes showing glimpses of promise, none of the trio could count their time in the North East as a success and since their returns to their parent clubs, two, Rose and Bentaleb, have been frozen out of first-team affairs whilst Lazaro has been moved on loan again, this time to German side Borussia Monchengladbach.

The elephant in the room is clearly Martin Dúbravka’s move from Sparta Prague in January 2018, without doubt, the only successful January loan signing made by Newcastle between 2011 and 2020. Nothing more needs to be said about the great impact he has made in his three years at the club, and the many more he hopefully still has to come.

I’m not sure what spurs Newcastle on to keep making these loan signings because, as documented, a hit rate of one in ten isn’t anything to shout about. Ireland, De Jong, Doumbia, Slimani, Kenedy, Barreca, Rose, Lazaro and Bentaleb have all come and gone without leaving an impression. Some have gone on to great things, most of them haven’t, and Newcastle are still pretty much the same club that Ireland joined in 2011 and that Rose, Lazaro and Bentaleb left in 2020.

Quite simply, at Newcastle United, January transfer window loan signings do not work. They’re often short-term “fixes” for problems left by inactivity in the summer with no benefit for the club past game 38 of the season.

It’s an unsustainable and totally avoidable mess but they’ll probably fall into the same trap again this month.

You can follow the author on Twitter @16joebuck

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