Premier League: Why wily Wijnaldum will walk on water at Newcastle
Newcastle United, 20/1 for a top six Premier League finish with Coral next term, are set to make a splash in transfer market, as new boss Steve McClaren prepares to bring in a player he is more than familiar with, following his successful spell in the Eredivise while as boss of FC Twente; PSV Eindhoven’s Georginio Wijnaldum for a reported £14.5m fee.
With an estimated £60m to lavish on improving the Magpies squad, Wijnaldum represents a breed of player who can take the Premier League by storm. At 24, he is the right age to move, and having captained his side to a title win last season, plus winning the Dutch Footballer of the Year, big things are expected.
In 44 appearances across all competitions last term, Wijnaldum scored 18 goals, which is respectable considering he had a prolific Memphis Depay in his team, who also recently completed a move to the Premier League, joining Manchester United.
Clearly he has an eye for goal, though he is equally adept at contributing assists and has the vision and movement off the ball to cause teams problems.
McClaren has lined up a number of targets for next season, and he could soon see talented Anderlecht striker Aleksandr Mitrovic join as well.
“We’re close,” said McClaren. “We are working very hard behind the scenes. When you buy players for £0-5m there are loads of them and in that respect Newcastle would be top of the tree.
“From £5-10m still a lot of them and we would be right up there competing with that group – and there are a lot of players in that group. But when you above that and look for a calibre of player to improve what we’ve got and to achieve our objectives, that makes a huge difference.
“When you go to £10m-plus – and there is a lot of speculation about that level of player at the moment – they are Europa League and Champions League players at top clubs. There aren’t so many players in that bracket, so the competition is higher,” he continued.
“It is more difficult to recognise their availability and get things done. The process is going and, believe you me, there is a massive willingness from the club to spend, but not spend foolishly.
“We are also looking for good value, but everyone in football is still looking for good value for money and talent – and that is what we are doing.”
Prior to McClaren’s arrival at the club, a list of targets had apparently been drawn up and whether Wijnaldum was on there remains to be seen, though there is no doubt that he represents the quality that Newcastle’s incoming boss referred to.
“I looked at the plan and looked at the calibre of players and said ‘wow’,” he said. “We have expressed our objectives and put it on the line and now we have to fulfil that. That’s what Mike Ashley has done and he said ‘go on fulfil it’. So we have to get the right ones to improve this group.”
The signing of Wijnaldum is certainly somewhat of a coup, considering that the Magpies were almost relegated last season, though his presence should ensure that Newcastle won’t end up anywhere near there next term.
McClaren, meanwhile, is already thinking about the next couple of transfer windows, which suggests that he will have more funds to invest.
“We have talked a lot about the next three windows being huge, massive, for us. But let’s make sure we get the right ones,” McClaren said.
“If we get them, then in a year’s time – after the third window – we should have a damn good team and squad on a different level to where we are now. That is purely because we are looking at players above a certain bracket.”