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These Leicester City and Newcastle United signings tell us so much as we look forward to…

1 week ago

Leicester City and Newcastle United continue their relationship from a distance.

That is at least for Newcastle United fans, who keep an eye out for Leicester City as the club the Magpies could / should have been.

Premier League champions in 2015/16, last eight of the Champions League the following season, now successive fifth place finishes that Leicester City fans have seen as total failure.

No, honestly. Both 2019/20 and 2020/21 looking nailed on for Champions League top four finishes, only to just fail to make the cut. Many Leicester fans angry and gutted at just having to make do with winning the FA Cup this most recent season and only having Europa League football to look forward to in the season ahead.

Add in their stunning state of the art £95m new training complex that has also now been completed and opened in 2021 and is it any wonder Newcastle United fans try to recall exactly what they have done to upset the football gods so badly?

The 2021 summer transfer window is now almost a month old and these Leicester City and Newcastle United signings tell us so much as we look forward to the new season…

Let me take you back to the ending of the January 2020 transfer window…but first off, we start in 2019.

Lee Charnley asked why Mike Ashley hasn’t made good on the Newcastle United state of the art new training ground, which Ashley had announced in 2013 would be built as soon as possible, as it was essential if Newcastle would be able to compete in the future and attract quality players.

Lee Charnley 18 April 2019 – as reported by Martin Hardy (one of a number of selected journalists invited to speak to Lee Charnley):

“We are looking at a training ground building project that is potentially going to be between £15m and £20million.

“If you were to ask me now, do I think we are best served spending that on a new training facility or spending it on improving the team, now, today in the short-term, I think that money is best spent on the team.

“In my experience, has a player turned round and said I’m not signing for Newcastle United because of your training facilities? No. Did it stop us getting promoted out of the Championship, did it stop us finishing tenth, did it stop us having a good season this season? No.

“Is it something at some point in the future, if we could and it was the right time to spend the money, we would look at improving? Yes.”

Lee Charnley quotes in The Chronicle – 14 August 2019:

“It is about priorities.

“There is a pot of money. Where is the greater need? At this time it’s on field.

“It’s not unreasonable, the pot of money can only go so far.

“You go and spend it on the training ground it means there is less to spend on the team.

“Spend it on the Academy, there is less to spend on the team.

“Spend too much on wages, there’s less to spend on the team.

“That doesn’t mean we don’t spend in all those areas, because we do, but our view has been at this point in time the priority is what goes on to the field.

“It doesn’t mean we don’t want to update the training ground.

“Does it mean at some point in time we would like to update the training ground? Absolutely, yes.

“It is about priorities. It doesn’t stop us doing what we need to do on a daily basis.

“Our pitches are very good, our gym is perfectly adequate and functional.

“Do we have a swimming pool or water facilities? No.

“Would we like to have it at some stage? Absolutely.”

We move on to 1 February 2020 and this report from The Mag after a bizarre few days:

At Steve Bruce’s press conference on Friday, he surprisingly/bizarrely came out with a claim that Newcastle came close to potentially breaking their transfer record for a third time in 12 months.

The NUFC Head Coach introducing the claim that on Thursday 23 January Newcastle United had an offer accepted for a mystery midfielder that could have broken the alleged £40m (£43m according to Mike Ashley) that was spent on Joelinton. Only for the player himself to turn down the move.

Steve Bruce telling the media that it was up to the media to work out for themselves who this mystery (made up?) player was.

Very quickly, Sky Sports came up with Boubakary Soumare.

For a club that didn’t buy anybody in January, especially a much needed striker/goalscorer, it was all a little difficult to believe.

However, L’equipe have revealed why Boubakary Soumare didn’t sign…

We wonder why?

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Only seven years and counting since Mike Ashley in 2013 promised the new state of the art training complex would be built, something that he said was essential if Newcastle United were going to be able to compete and attract top players…

Steve Bruce speaking to newspaper journalists – 1 February 2020:

“We were close but couldn’t get it (Boubakary Soumare signing) over the line.

“We had a bid accepted by the club but the player wanted to stay where he was.

“A big disappointment, he was a midfielder and our number one target.”

Steve Bruce speaking to Sky Sports:

“(a bid) Which would nearly have got us to our record transfer (Joelinton).

“Eight days ago (23 January) we had it accepted by the club, unfortunately the player wanted to stay (where he is).

“So you know, we were active.

“We were really really active.

“It didn’t quite happen.

“So, we will just have to wait and see what we can do in the summer…”

Back to the present day (Sunday 4 July 2021) and this the 26th day of the 2021 summer transfer window…

Leicester City have followed up the £22m signing of Patson Daka from RB Salzburg, with the £17m purchase of Boubakary Soumare from Lille.

Two Leicester City signings for less than the cost of one Joelinton, two 22 year olds with loads of promise, who don’t appear to have been put off by Leicester’s brand new £95m training complex, as opposed to Newcastle United’s (at least in Soumare’s case) mythical and will never be built (at least whilst Mike Ashley owns NUFC) £15m/£20m ‘state of the art’ effort.

The 22 year old Patson Daka has just scored 51 goals these past two seasons in the Austrian league in 42 starts (and 17 sub appearances), compared to Joelinton who scored 15 goals in 45 starts (plus 15 sub appearances) in his two seasons in the Austrian league, ahead of signing for Newcastle for £40m / £43m.

As for Boubakary Soumare, another 22 year old, the 6ft 2 central midfielder made 32 Ligue 1 appearances for Lille this past season as they surprisingly broke PSG’s domination of French football.

This is peak Newcastle United under Mike Ashley, only 17 months ago NUFC were allegedly offering to pay around £40m for a 20 year old Soumare, rivalling the transfer fee paid for Joelinton just over six months earlier…

Now, in July 2021, the Newcastle United squad return to start pre-season preparations tomorrow (Monday 5 July) with not a single new signing and widespread reports that the transfer kitty for NUFC this summer is all but non-existent. Mike Ashley insisting that no transfer fee is paid for run of the mill midfielder Mario Lemina because he turns 28 in September, whilst a £1m offer for a 21 year old Wolves defender has been knocked back.

Two weeks until Newcastle United first friendlies and six weeks until the Premier League season kicks off, not a single new signing and seemingly zero chance of any credible ones to be made.

You then have idiots like Leicester City having spent around £40m already on two promising 22 year olds as they try to make that leap from fifth to fourth or higher this coming season.

All of this whilst Newcastle United fans face yet another season of wondering if those fingertips clinging on to a place in the Premier League will be able to hold on much longer.

As things stand, zero chance of Joe Willock to be signed permanently and total reliance on Callum Wilson as the only reliable looking goalscorer, if he can get and stay fit.

The above is a tale of two clubs and two fanbases who are looking in very different directions.

As a footnote, Leicester City were playing League One football as recently as 12 years ago (2009) and Championship football seven years ago (2014).

So much has changed at Leicester City these past 12 years, whilst in the last 14 years of Mike Ashley, so little has changed.

As Lee Charnley points out though, obviously quite unrealistic for Mike Ashley to allow money to be spent on a swimming pool / hydrotherapy facilities in almost a decade and a half, who do you think he is, a multi-billionaire…?


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