Last week signalled the end of the latest transfer window, one that for most fans will be quickly forgotten as the majority of Premier League clubs avoided the temptation to dip into the January sales.
For Newcastle United, though, it was probably their most successful transfer window in years, one in which the long-standing transfer record of Michael Owen, dating from August 2005, was finally broken. The new man with the big price on his head is Miguel Almiron, who was signed from Atlanta United for a reported £21 million. In truth, under Mike Ashley’s ownership, I never thought that record would be broken and Owen would remain a painful stain on Newcastle’s history.
The deal however, was sealed not by Newcastle’s money or Ashley’s but instead a loan from Barclays Bank.The question, therefore, is where has all that money gone from the summer? Newcastle sold Alexsander Mitrovic for £28 million and ended up in profit from the summer transfer window. So why did the club have to take a loan out to pay Atlanta the fee for Almiron?
There should have been plenty of money for Rafael Benitez to spend, but it seems like it has disappeared.
Newcastle United are not what they once were and the years under Ashley have reduced the club to making Premier League survival their main aim. Years of neglect have left fans with very limited expectations. This is a club that, 15 years ago, was competing for the Champions League, but in that time has found itself relegated twice.
The transfer record for a club such as Newcastle – which was revealed as the 19th richest in the world by Deloitte – should not be broken every 15 years and it certainly should not be a shock to both their fans and the media.
Teams such as Brighton and Bournemouth, have smashed their transfer records consistently over the past few years and they are reaping the rewards, as they now have better squads than Newcastle.
It is this critical lack of investment that has left Newcastle as a floundering club that simply now exists in the Premier League, gone are the days of FA Cup runs and big money signings. This Almiron deal was most definitely a one off.
Reports are already emerging that Ashley is now demanding Benitez signs a new contract because he finally signed a top target, as opposed to shopping around in the bargain bin.
This is just another example of Ashley’s stupidity in his running of Newcastle; Benitez is a top coach and it will take more than just one signing to convince him to sign another deal.
In fact, Benitez and Newcastle fans should expect the transfer record to be broken again this summer rather than this constant expectation of disappointment that has become a constant theme for this once great football club.
For Almiron, he will hope that his time on Tyneside will be better than the last record signing for the club.