Why Islam Slimani’s signing could be worth every penny even if he doesn’t kick a ball for NUFC

After another revealing interview this week at Newcastle’s Spanish training camp, Benitez quite rightly has insisted that things need to change at Newcastle for us to be successful at the right end of the table.

For the third window in succession, Rafa was short-changed by Mike Ashley in the transfer market and even with all his experience, he will privately admit the limited movement he was given, couldn’t have worked out much better.

The signing of Islam Slimani was a prime example. He’s a quality player, but he’s not fit – although his signing has done wonders for us without him even kicking a ball yet.

Here’s why amongst other positives to take from a surprisingly fruitful January transfer window:

Slimani’s arrival has pushed Gayle to up his game

A big point to consider on the striker front is the impact Slimani has had on Gayle without playing. Having that competition there appears to have spurred the former Palace man on and he has been impressive ever since. Gayle’s known he’s HAD to perform, with Slimani ready to take his place as soon as he’s fit if he didn’t take his big chance.



With two goals and two assists in his last four, you could even argue that it’s now not even a given that Slimani would start over Gayle vs Huddersfield (if he was fit that is).

Gayle has been missing the odd chance still (Southampton), but he’s played a key part in almost every goal we’ve scored in the last few weeks. He got a nice assist for Ritchie against Man.Utd, scored two at Bournemouth and set up Kennedy superbly in the last game too; playing a role in 4 of our last 6 goals.

He’ll still play a part and has put paid to the unhealthy Mitrovic situation

Arriving far too late in the window but nonetheless, Slimani was the bit of quality we were missing up front and on the face of it looked a coup on loan. He of course has not been fit since and hasn’t even kicked a ball for NUFC yet, but we are in a strong position at present and his eventual introduction to the team will give us another timely boost ahead of the final few months of the season. He has Champions League experience, offers a different threat to Gayle and will be hungry to impress.

It is a controversial subject, but his arrival has also allowed us to loan Mitrovic out – which I see as a win-win scenario. He is flying at Fulham, scoring goals and gaining confidence and only increasing his re-sale value. He either forces his way back into our plans (unlikely under Rafa) or we re-coup our fee in the summer.

He is a fan favourite but doesn’t seem to work in Rafa’s current system, so there is only one winner there. Chants of “MITRO, MITRO” were unhealthy whenever he was dropped and it was becoming a weekly distraction as to why he wasn’t playing.

Even if this is/was justified, Rafa didn’t see him fitting into our current system so we needed to ship him out to focus. Mitro has done well since he left, but so have we – and that’s what truly matters in all of this.

The huge impact of Kenedy and Dubravka

Straying away from Slimani here, but the signings of Kenedy and Dubravka look to be two inspired ones, with their immediate influence on the team distracting from Slimani’s nonexistence. Both were low key signings but have improved the NUFC team massively.

His two goals in a key game against Southampton sum up Kenedy’s impact so far, proving us with real power going forward and more of a cutting edge. I expected him to be deployed at left back but he has looked excellent going forward on the left wing and has provided a welcome boost the team. Keeping hold of him in the summer will be difficult at this rate after his loan from Chelsea expires, but that shows just what a great talent we’ve been able to borrow.

Dubravka however is all set to sign in the summer with a £4m deal already in place – and it looks like a no brainer. He has been assured and we have looked far more solid with his presence; personified with the excellent display in the win over Manchester United. Goalkeeper has been a problem for us all season with the inconsistent displays of Darlow in particular and we can finally now play a settled back five with Lejeune and Dummett fit too.

The performances of the pair will surely have bene beyond even Rafa’s expectations and with Slimani to return soon (and him helping push Gayle on in the mean time), we are very fortunate that the manager has bailed Mike Ashley and his lack of spending out once more.

(Fancy writing for us? Send any articles/ideas over to us at [email protected] & we’ll get back to you!)

About Simon Riddlesden

Lifelong Newcastle United fan and East Stand season ticket holder. Observations from a supporter who has followed NUFC during Champions League participation and through relegation, taking me from Milan to Scunthorpe.

31 thoughts on “Why Islam Slimani’s signing could be worth every penny even if he doesn’t kick a ball for NUFC

  1. Thanks Simon, good read and I agree, although it’s disappointing that Slimani hasn’t been fit his signing does seem to have motivated Gayle. I think Gayles problem is a lack of confidence in his hamstring, always looking like he was holding back a little, not quite giving it 100%. Now he seems to be playing without fear, maybe his attitude is that he has to give it his all as if he doesn’t he’ll be dropped. On the other hand maybe he feels fitter, who knows. The main thing is it’s benefitting Newcastle.
    I’m a massive fan of Debravka too, he is far better than what we have, seems much more assured and vocal, hope we sign him.
    Kennedy’s value will only increase if he continues to impress, Chelsea will want quite a bit for him I’d imagine and if Conte leaves with him having strong links to the Italy job now, the new guy might fancy keeping him so I don’t see it being straight forward.
    Add Ashley to the mix and I see a long drawn out protracted set of negotiations to secure his signature which will ultimately fail due to his short arms and deep pockets.

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  2. i think its a waste of time even trying to get Slimani to play he will be far from being match fit he would need four or five games to get match fit and theres only six/seven games he could play in so imo forget him,this type of injury can take months to get over it would not shock me if he was not fit to start next season

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  3. KIM i really think Conti will leave at season end,any new manager worth his salt would want to look at all players at the club so it might be hard to get him but in saying that Chelsea have 35 players out on loan he cannot see all of them,another loan might be the only way to get him imo

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  4. icedog:
    KIM i really think Conti will leave at season end,any new manager worth his salt would want to look at all players at the club so it might be hard toget him but in saying that Chelsea have 35 players out on loan he cannot see all of them,another loan might be the only way to get him imo

    yeah that could work mate.

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  5. A Kenedy loan for next season has already been talked about and it may come about. He’s certainly made a big difference to us so loan or buy, then get him in for next season.

    As for Slimani – what a waste of time and money.

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  6. Georgio: Isn’t Slimani the Joselu replacement? So even if he is fit for the last 5 games it might work out. I never thought he was bought to motivate Gayle. It was all about Rafa wanting Mitro out and there has to be more to that story.

    Mitro is a nutter so there just has to be more. He had a story in one of the papers where he was saying that football saved him because he would have become a criminal otherwise. He said he was dropping rocks off flyovers onto moving cars when he was 12.

    There just has to be more to this.

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  7. The Mitro story went back to last year in The Championship so there just has to be more to it than they are letting on.

    I know I am repeating myself. But saying he doesn’t fit in the system doesn’t cut it.

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  8. welli watched Mitro closely against QPR.he made a few crazy tackles which could have had a few yellows with a diff ref,also i can see where Rafa is comeing from in the second half he wandering about in the other half doing very little doing nothing not working at all

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  9. icedog:
    welli watched Mitro closely against QPR.he made a few crazy tackles which could have had a few yellows with a diff ref,also i can see where Rafa is comeing from in the second half he wandering about in the other half doing very little doing nothing not working at all

    Yep, it’s in his locker and you tend to get away with it more in the fizzy than the PL going off what I have seen .

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  10. Mikel Merino exclusive:
    *I can achieve my dream of playing for Spain with #nufc *The weather in Newcastle may be cold but the warmth of the people means you don’t feel it *I marvel at St James’ Park on days off

    lovely words from the young lad.

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  11. kimtoon:
    Mikel Merino exclusive:
    *I can achieve my dream of playing for Spain with #nufc *The weather in Newcastle may be cold but the warmth of the people means you don’t feel it *I marvel at St James’ Park on days off

    lovely words from the young lad.

    aye he started off on fire,the PL grinds you down a bit if your not 100% fit and back injury can be a swine to fix,could be next season before we see back to full fitness

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  12. So the Gateshead firm De Le Rue has lost the contract to make the blue passports to a French firm!
    #Brexit 😳

    The Chronicle‏Verified account @ChronicleLive

    Follow Follow @ChronicleLive

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    De La Rue Gateshead shock as contract to print iconic blue passport given to French firm

      (Quote)

  13. kimtoon:
    So the Gateshead firm De Le Rue has lost the contract to make the blue passports to a French firm!
    #Brexit

    The Chronicle‏Verified account @ChronicleLive

    Follow Follow @ChronicleLive

     More

    De La Rue Gateshead shock as contract to print iconic blue passport given to French firm

    to many back-handers when it comes to politics mate,think you know that

      (Quote)

  14. Icedog: Going to announced end of April/early May,it’s a joke

    So we are going to end up with a load of games on top each other in may which puts us at a disadvantage in the relegation battle. Ridiculous planning and very unfair.

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  15. icedog:
    KIM i really think Conti will leave at season end,any new manager worth his salt would want to look at all players at the club so it might be hard toget him but in saying that Chelsea have 35 players out on loan he cannot see all of them,another loan might be the only way to get him imo

    Ice – it could also be that a new manager will want to bring his own players in & with all those players out on loan Roman may well tell the newbie they have to sell before they buy.
    I don’t imagine any new manager will want to get rid of the big players, so if they can sell 10 fringe players – the likes of Kennedy, Loftus Cheek, van Ginkel for example – sell 10 of those types of player for even £15m a pop & that gives a canny kitty 🤷🏼‍♂️.

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  16. It is a strange world. Wenger said the oompaloompa could look for another club but then Arsenal ended up offering him 80k a week plus incentives. I think that is more than the top paid player at NUFC. But it is not enough for a perennially crocked midget with an inside leg measurement of 14.

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  17. Sharpy17: Ice – it could also be that a new manager will want to bring his own players in & with all those players out on loan Roman may well tell the newbie they have to sell before they buy.
    I don’t imagine any new manager will want to get rid of the big players, so if they can sell 10 fringe players – the likes of Kennedy, Loftus Cheek, van Ginkel for example – sell 10 of those types of player for even £15m a pop & that gives a canny kitty .

    Sharpy: Loftus Cheek at 15 mil would be a steal.

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  18. It is the international break so the stories I am reading are about Jack bloody Wilshere and Joe sodding Hart. The 2 most overrated and overpaid players in the history of the game.

    Why do we have to have a break for meaningless friendlies?

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  19. I actually disagree with the theory Slimani has been the inspiration.

    I think that goes to Kenedy personally. I think having that improved quality in the team have lifted the likes of Gayle, Shelvey and even Ritchie is playing better than he was IMO.
    I think a large part of it is confidence and self belief. Kenedy completely believes in himself and backs himself. I don’t think Atsu is a bad player but he doesn’t play with the same confidence Kenedy does – Kenedy has more ability than Atsu as well, don’t get me wrong. But it’s that self confidence that rubs off on other players – and I think that’s what’s happened with Gayle and Shelvey.
    That doesn’t seem to have rubbed off on Joselu sadly, but I do think that if Slimani comes into the side with the same self confidence, we could only get better again 🤞🏻

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  20. kimtoon:
    So the Gateshead firm De Le Rue has lost the contract to make the blue passports to a French firm!
    #Brexit

    The Chronicle‏Verified account @ChronicleLive

    Follow Follow @ChronicleLive

     More

    De La Rue Gateshead shock as contract to print iconic blue passport given to French firm

    Kim – this is a disgrace and you’re right, it goes against everything we were promised as part of Brexit.
    I have a friend who works at De le Rue and it is entirely possible that jobs could be lost as a result of that contract going to France.

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  21. Eric Sykes: Sharpy: Loftus Cheek at 15 mil would be a steal.

    Eric – he would indeed mate, and I’m not saying Chelsea will sell him at that, I’m just making the point that if there’s as many fringe players on loan, even if Chelsea sold for as little as that they would still be in a good position.
    It’s probably going to be more than that when the likes of Ake went for £20m I think. But even then, I don’t think you’re being robbed paying £20m for Lotus Cheek or Kenedy.

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  22. Oh how my hopes raised when I saw a picture of inside of SJP with no SD billboards ,then I saw it was for the Falcons rugby game😁😁

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