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What’s realistic for Newcastle United this summer?


Jun 4, 2023

If you’re under the age of twenty-five, there probably hasn’t been a more exciting time to be a Newcastle United fan in your lifetime. Even if you’re a few years older than that, it’ll be difficult for you to remember a time when it was this much fun to follow the Toon Army. You’d have to go back to the Keegan era (the first one, not the regrettable second one) to find the last time the Magpies qualified for the Champions League. Eddie Howe and his team deserve a lot of credit for the transformation they’ve brought about in the past season – but qualifying for the Champions League has significantly raised expectations around the club.

When you’re a Champions League team, you’re expected to have Champions League players. It’s safe to assume that there will be some concentrated attempts at recruitment going on during the summer transfer window – possibly even right now while you’re reading these words. Speculation regarding Newcastle United and player transfers has never been hotter than during the past twelve months, which is due in no small part to the Saudi-led takeover of the club, which has theoretically provided Newcastle with the biggest transfer kitty the club has ever known. However, things aren’t quite that simple.

Are the greatest riches still out of reach?

Newcastle’s owners could probably outspend any other club in the world if they so desired. They have the greatest resources, so they could spend the most money. As Manchester City and Everton might be about to find out, though, things in football aren’t quite so simple. Financial Fair Play rules mean that a club’s spending has to be linked to its income. Newcastle’s board can’t just spend cash purely because the owners have it there to spend. That means you can forget about any idea of Newcastle going out and breaking the world transfer fee record this summer; the Champions League will boost income at St James Park, which means big money can be spent, but there are limits.

Depending on what happens with the club’s primary sponsors, there could even be a risk that the budget this summer is lower than last summer’s. Fun88, the online casino, will no longer sponsor the club’s kits next season, and we can forget about another big-spending sponsor from casino land coming in and replacing them. The days of casino sister sites spending massive amounts of cash to sponsor Premier League shirts are now over because of a voluntary mandate introduced by the Premier League itself. If a suitable replacement for Fun88 can’t be found, the club might find itself out of pocket. In reality, though, this probably isn’t likely – the connections that the owners have mean that a big-money Middle Eastern sponsor has probably been lined up already.

Realistic targets?

Having underlined the idea that the Magpies aren’t going to spend £200m on a single player, there’s something else that we ought to bear in mind. Eddie Howe’s transfer policy to date suggests that he isn’t interested in creating black-and-white Galacticos. Players like Nick Pope and Kieran Trippier have been sensible, pragmatic signings who’ve brought a lot to the club. While there arguably improvements to be made all over the field (except in goal), Howe is unlikely to sign off on the idea of creating a team of all-stars. That means we can probably forget about any idea of seeing Neymar in black and white, no matter how attractive the idea might be to some fans or how much newspapers love to talk about it.

Fans should also forget about the idea of signing Cristiano Ronaldo for the same reason they should forget about signing Neymar, although the number of fans who’d actually want to see the legendary Portuguese forward at the club may have dwindled somewhat in the past twelve months. The way Ronaldo left Manchester United was a stark reminder of the more difficult aspects of the Portuguese’s personality and the fact that he had to accept a big-money move to Saudi Arabia rather than to a top European club – which was his original stated intention – is confirmation that his best days are behind him. A near-40 Ronaldo on big-money wages wouldn’t be much use to Newcastle as anything more than a marketing exercise.

There are two more realistic options who might find their way to St James Park this summer – and one of those options might involve hijacking a move that Manchester United have been lining up for some time. We’re talking, of course, about Harry Kane. Tottenham’s latest nightmare season is understood to have made Kane’s mind up that the time has come for him to depart. He scored 30 league goals in a dreadful team this season, which means there will be plenty of suitors for him even at the age of 30 with a questionable injury record. It’s an open secret that Manchester United want the England captain, but a move to Newcastle might appeal more to Kane because it represents an opportunity to make history by helping the club win major honours for the first time in the modern era.

Another player who could be persuaded to up sticks and move to Newcastle is James Maddison, who definitely won’t be staying at Leicester City now the Foxes have been relegated to the Championship. Maddison needs to look himself in the mirror as hard as any other Leicester player does after the club’s fall from grace this season, but his qualities are undoubted. Arsenal are sniffing around, but again, the prospect of building something new at Newcastle might appeal to Maddison more than moving to the nation’s capital. If Maddison turns out to be a no-go, then James Ward-Prowse from also-relegated Southampton might be an alternative option. Again, he’s a signing that won’t set the world on fire but suits the model of what Howe’s trying to build at the club.

Fans at St James Park might need to be a little patient. The club arguably over-achieved this season, and so the Magpies are a year or two ahead of where the plan said they would be when the new owners arrive. We’d all love to see a time when the world’s biggest-name players line up to move to Newcastle, but we’re not there yet. A few more sensible signings and another season of over-achievement, and who knows where Newcastle might be?

By admin