To say this summer got of to a rocky start, would be a complete understatement! It started in the worse possible way, with the club confirming Rafa would leave at the end of his contract. Follow that up with last seasons top scorer Ayoze Perez left for the East Midlands, and joined Leicester City after his £30 million release clause was activated.
Pair that up with Mo Diame leaving at the end of his contract, and it became increasingly obvious the loan deals for Rondon, Kenedy and Barreca would not be made permanent! But let’s be honest at the minute, only one of those three would be a miss.
There was continued talk that a host of first team players could leave with Isaac Hayden (West Ham and Watford), Sean Longstaff (Man U), Jonjo Shelvey (West Ham were looking), Martin Dubravka (PSG) and rumours of Fabian Schar being offered to AC Milan! All this before we knew who the new manager would be! It was not looking promising, and certain relegation was staring us in the face!
A couple days after the squad flew out to China it was announced that former Man U defender Steve Bruce would be taking over from the former Champions League winner Benítez, who had since moved to China and taken Rondon with him. With someone now at the helm, the noises from the club were that activity in the market would now start, but with only three weeks left before the window closed it was still looking a struggle. Personally I don’t want to say too much else about the appointment, we have been here before, when Sir Bobby was sacked and replaced with Souness, I just hope Brucie does better!
The first one through the door, blew our record transfer out the water! The record which was broken in January when we signed Miggy Almiron for what will rise to £21m after all clauses activated, was beaten by another South American. Brazilian striker Joelinton joined for £40m from Bundesliga side Hoffenheim. Still only 22, the striker is unproven in the Premier League. However from what I’ve seen from preseason and bits of the Bundesliga I have watched, all I will say is Joelinton will scare premiership defenders. Ok his goal tally wasn’t great prior to moving to Tyneside, he can only get better. A strong, quick central striker will thrive on balls coming into the box, but will also be able to create his own chances by dropping deep! All in all if the big man can adapt to the Prem, he will be a suitable, even better, replacement at number 9!
Next through the door, was a player in a position we have been begging to be looked at for years! Dutch left back Jetro Willems would join on a season long loan, with a suggested option to buy. Willems is strong as an ox, but has pace to match. A decent defender who likes to get forward as often as possible, which will suit the new formation Bruce wants to implement (5-3-2).
Willems was followed on the same day by Allan Saint-Maximin! A deal which could rise to £22m was agreed with his club Nice, and the Gucci headband wearing winger arrived on Tyneside! From what I’ve seen the french winger will certainly get fans on their feet. He is not afraid to throw in flicks and tricks, and from what I’ve seen from the St Etienne game and clips of his time in France, he has confidence in his ability, and is not afraid to turn the off left back inside-out! Only time will tell whether he will settle in, but like all the signings, will need to be given a chance!
Deadline day saw two more come through the door, as Swedish right back Emil Krafth joined from Amiens and Andy Carroll came home on a free transfer after nearly 9 years away from Tyneside.
I’m going to be honest, I don’t know a lot about Krafth, and have only seen clips on YouTube, but I get the feeling that is going to turn out a lot better than last time someone was signed on the back of a YouTube highlight reel! He will certainly increase the competition between him, Manquillo and Yedlin (once he is fit again).
The final first team signing saw Andy Carroll come home, after joining on a 1 year deal after being released by West Ham. Carroll is not going to be a guaranteed starter, and may only play a handful of games, but he will come up with important goals! I don’t believe we saw the same Carroll at Liverpool and West Ham that we saw at Newcastle the first time round! It’s almost as if he was made to wear the famous Black and White and everything else just didn’t feel right!
The loss of Perez in my honest opinion won’t be felt until we are a few games into the season, and there’s a chance it won’t be noticed. There was nothing the club could do once that bid came in from the former League Champions, but it was obvious he would go! There was talk he wanted to leave in early April, long before we knew what was happening with Rafa. Being top scorer the past couple of seasons Ayo leaves a massive hole that Joelinton, Almiron and possibly Saint-Maximin will have to fill, and only time will tell whether the loss of the Spanish striker will be missed!
Next out the door was another Spaniard! One if we are honest won’t be missed, in the shape of Joselu! The striker moved back to Spain with Alvares in a deal that saw the club make a loss on the striker brought in from Stoke! But with the return of Dwight Gayle from his loan move, and the improved performances from Yoshinori Muto over preseason, the loss of Joselu will not be noticed!
Freddie Woodman (Swansea), Nathan Harker (Blyth Spartans), Liam Gibson (Grimsby) and Jacob Murphy (Sheffield Wednesday) were all shipped out on loan deals.
I feel this is a good move for Woodman, regular first team football will prepare him when he eventually steps in to take over the reigns from Dubravka, with the added bonus of a contract extension being signed before he moved to Wales, it shows me the club want him to progress. Harker and Gibson will also improve with regular football, although at a lower level, regular minutes, and not just for the under 23’s side will do them the world of good!
The Murphy loan to me just looks like trying to get someone off the books! It became obvious during preseason the former Norwich winger was not really in Steve Bruce’s plans, only really making cameos in the friendly games. This is last chance saloon for Murphy, and a way to put him in the window for a permanent move away.
Midfielder Mo Diame was also released after his contract ran out. Diame for me will be a miss, when he stepped into midfield at times looked unplayable! Like Perez, Diame will be a miss this season, and probably a position we should have strengthened.
Personally I think we have had a decent window on paper. I have purposely left out the loan players from ‘outgoings’ as they were pretty much guaranteed, meaning the club knew they would have to ‘replace’ them.
The new signings have filled gaps that have been there a couple of years, especially at left back. The most surprising aspect is that there have been more permanent incomings, than loans and free transfers like we have seen in recent years. Could the club have done more? Yes I think they could have, a replacement for Diame was needed, to add a midfield defensive enforcer would have left the squad in a decent shape before the season.
I do believe we are stronger than last season, but the issue remains will the new signings be able to adapt to the Prem? If they can I firmly believe the club can push on, as long as they continue to build on what has been a busy three weeks!