Ashley’s art of good business can pay dividends for Newcastle
Newcastle’s recruitment over the past few seasons has been nothing short of exceptional. Thanks to chief scout Graham Carr’s knowledge of France and Ligue 1 they have unearthed a number of gems, including Yohan Cabaye. Chairman Mike Ashley has endured a lot of criticism in recent years regarding spending policy, with some fans questioning his ambition.
There can be no argument about his ability to do business, however. Cabaye came in for £4.3m from Lille and was sold for £20m to PSG. Cheick Tiote was signed for £3.5m, and Hatem Ben Arfa for £2m; two players that could easily fetch at least £12m on the open market, should the club decide to sell.
French international right back Mathieu Debuchy has been sold for a reported £10m to Arsenal, and replaced by the Netherlands’ first-choice in that position, Daryl Janmaat, for half that.
The fees received for Cabaye and Debuchy alone have funded Newcastle’s business this summer, with change left over. Six signings and counting have come through the door, and the Magpies are 7/5 to finish inside the top 10.
Their biggest outlay has been on midfielder Remy Cabella; a £12m signing from Montpelier, who earned rave reviews in France. Cabella was part of Didier Deschamps’ World Cup squad with France, although didn’t feature in Brazil. The 24-year-old scored 14 times and created seven goals in 37 Ligue 1 appearances last season, and Newcastle boss Alan Pardew is excited about seeing him play.
“He is a player who I am sure will excite our fans,” the Magpies manager said of Cabella. “He has flair, hard work and commitment, and is going to bring a talent, energy and quality to St. James’ Park that our supporters will enjoy.”
Siem de Jong has also arrived on Tyneside for £6m, and such is Pardew’s belief in the player, he has already named him as vice-captain, after his time skippering Ajax on Dutch title successes.
He links up with former teammate Vurnon Anita, after the two spent six years together in Amsterdam, progressing through the world renowned youth academy.
“Siem can be a great player in the Premier League,” Anita added. “I was excited when I heard Newcastle had signed him because I have known him since I was little. We played for six years together at Ajax and are good friends, so it was very nice for me that he has come.”
Centre forward Emmanuel Riviere could turn out to be a smart signing, if he can discover his scoring touch. Having jetted in from Monaco for £6m, Pardew is encouraged by the potential the striker has, with the club short in this department last term.
“This is an important signing because the striking area is one we really had to improve,” said Pardew. “We have looked at Emmanuel for a while and we know he will score goals for us.”
Riviere scored 17 goals in 50 matches for Monaco, and also plied his trade with Newcastle’s Moussa Sissoko at Toulouse.
“I’m very happy to be here at Newcastle,” Riviere said. “When the club spoke to me I said yes immediately. It was an easy decision because Newcastle is a big club with great fans and a good stadium.”
The northeast club struggled for goals at times last season, with loan signing Loic Remy and Papiss Cisse both inconsistent. Riviere has a shade of Olivier Giroud about him, and could be one that flourishes in his second season, although the physical side of the player’s game should suit the rigours of the Premier League.
Newcastle have always had iconic strikers, and never historically had a problem in that department. Looking down through they years, Jackie Milburn, Peter Beardsley, record goalscorer Alan Shearer, Faustino Asprilla, and even Patrick Kluivert have all performed for the Magpies.
One new signing that could make a name for himself is 21-year-old Spanish striker Ayoze Perez, who was snapped up from Tenerife for a fee in the region of £1.5m. He scored 16 goals in 34 appearances last term, and could turn out to be bargain buy of the season.
Perez seems to have everything; technique on the ball, pace, strength, awareness, a range of passing, vision, and a very, very good eye for goal. His signature also gives Pardew options. Combining with Riviere in attack could give the Magpies a lethal partnership, if both players can form an understanding with each other.
Jack Colback’s switch from neighbours Sunderland on a free transfer could turn out to be a useful capture, and gives the squad depth in midfield, as well as Premier League experience.
The last time Newcastle appeared in an FA Cup final was 15 years ago, losing 2-0 to Manchester United. To win the iconic competition next season, they are 33/1. First, new signings need to gel.