“Wealth is a veil that covers many wounds”, assured Menander, an Athenian playwright whom the critics of antiquity considered the greatest poet of the new comedy. In its lair of St. James’ Park, Newcastle will start its season this Saturday at 4 p.m. against Nottingham Forest, just promoted to the Premier League and author of a completely crazy summer transfer window. However, between Toons and Reds, it was in Tyneside that the recruits had to pile up one after the other. Nay. If the training trained by Steve Cooper – in the race for Houssem Aouar – has already spent nearly 95 million euros by offering Orel Mangala, Lewis O’Brien or even the nice shot Jesse Lingard – arrived freely – the Magpies are struggling to upset the mercato planet.
A disappointing summer transfer window!
Vegetating in the slums of the Premier League for a good part of last season – the club from the North East of England occupied the eighteenth place and had only 15 small points after 21 days – Newcastle, bought for the sum of €352 million by the Sovereign Fund of Saudi Arabia (PIF), had nevertheless been rather very active during the last winter window. Last January and for more than 100 million euros, Bruno Guimarães, Kieran Trippier, Chris Wood, Dan Burn or even Matt Targett, on loan from Aston Villa, came to help in the delicate maintenance mission. If this first salvo of arrivals proved to be a winner – the Toons finishing the 2021-2022 fiscal year in eleventh place – the new summer transfer window was eagerly awaited on the NUFC side. However, the fans fall from above and Newcastle is in a mess.
At the time of writing these lines, the English training has, in fact, only three small recruits. In addition to Matt Targett, whose purchase option was exercised this summer for €17 million, Newcastle leaders have attracted Nick Pope for €11 million, who was going down to the Championship with Burnley, and Sven Botman, bought for nearly €40m to LOSC. And then that’s all. If this transfer window is still far from over and the Toons continue to multiply the targets, like Jack Harrison, James Maddison or Maxwel Cornet, about to join West Ham, it is clear that despite their almost 70 M € spent this summer, the Magpies are experiencing a low in this period.
Newcastle facing its limits!
Unable to attract renowned players to take the lead of their project despite their status as the richest club in the world, the wealthy Saudi owners are disappointed and face an implacable reality: money is not everything in football. Endowed with almost unlimited means, Newcastle does not, in fact, dream sportingly. “Remember this famous valve on the plane between Griezmann and Mbappé, on Football Manager where he says ‘ah hey, I made you sign at Newcastle’ and the first reaction is ‘ah it’s cold there? ‘. Newcastle is that too, you have nothing to attract, we know Newcastle because you have Ginola who played there but it’s not madness either. It’s simple, what will attract players there is the Premier League effect, the salary effect and then the fact of saying to oneself that I am taking part, perhaps, in a project which risks being winner in three or four years”told us, in this sense, Jean-Baptiste Guégan, specialist in the geopolitics of sport.
Beyond its low attractiveness where the Tyneside club cannot, today, compete with formations such as Paris Saint-Germain, Real Madrid or Manchester City – what is more a few months from the World – the global project of the Magpies also questions and can explain this disappointing transfer window. Thus, despite the recent arrival of Dan Ashworth, new sporting director of the Toons who held this position in Brighton until last February, Newcastle still lacks experienced personalities to attract potential recruits. Arrived last November on the bench to replace Steve Bruce, Eddie Howe, who has just signed a new long-term contract with the Toons, for example does not necessarily have a full address book after coaching Bournemouth from 2012 to 2020. Not to mention the NUFC board, which is still slow to structure itself around its director Amanda Staveley, who has little footballing experience.
Finally, the Magpies, although driven by insane fortune, cannot afford all the follies on the market. “Financial fair play will impact us, will continue to impact us I think for a number of years. We don’t have the free hands that may have been perceived in the media, that we can go and sign whoever we want and pay exorbitant fees and salaries. We’re not in that position and I don’t think we will be for some time. We have to be creative and smart and try to make the right additions with the financial constraints that we have”, also recalled in this respect Eddie Howe, present this Friday at a press conference. So many reasons that can explain the difficulties encountered by Newcastle on the transfer market, despite the status of the richest club in the world. A label difficult to wear resulting, moreover, in some exorbitant prices demanded by the competition. It is therefore difficult to contradict Menander.