According to the Chronicle, Rafa Benitez tried and failed to sign FOUR other left-backs before settling on a loan deal for Monaco’s Antonio Barreca – suggesting he was anything but a top target.
In fairness, we don’t need to be told that Barreca wasn’t Rafa’s top target – with a deal for Lazio’s Jordan Lukaku failing at the final hurdle just a few days before he arrived – however it’s since been revealed that we attempted to sign ‘at least’ THREE other left wing-backs before returning to a deal for the Italian.
What’s more, it’s also claimed in the Chronicle’s piece that he’s ‘very much seen as a back up option’ following our training camp in Spain,
Here’s what Chris Waugh has had to say about Rafa’s hunt for a left-back last month:
‘Antonio Barreca was very much a wild-card signing; he was brought in out of necessity, rather than because he had such made a compelling case on the continent that he could excel in the Premier League.
‘After all, the 23-year-old made just seven appearances for a Monaco side who are in disarray, before being bombed out of the squad entirely by Thierry Henry – and the Ligue 1 club were delighted when Newcastle first registered an interest in January.
‘Yet, even when a loan deal had all been agreed with Monaco to bring Barreca to Tyneside for the second-half of the campaign, Benitez switched his attention to Jordan Lukaku once the Lazio left-back belatedly became available.
‘With that transfer subsequently collapsing after the Belgian failed a medical, Newcastle made enquiries for at least three other potential left-wing-backs before returning for Barreca. The fact Monaco were still willing to allow Barreca to leave confirmed their far-from-positive appraisal of the Italian.
‘Still, Benitez has been desperate to sign cover down the left-defensive flank for the best part of three years – an issue which has become even more pressing this season given Paul Dummett’s struggles with hamstring problems – and so he seized upon the opportunity to bring another body through the door.
‘The ex-Torino wing-back gives Benitez increased options, but the noises emanating from Newcastle’s training camp in Spain was that Barreca’s status is very much as back-up.’
With all this in mind, it seems highly unlikely to me that Barreca will make his loan move a permanent one come the summer.
He may end up getting more game time than we anticipate and could impress and give Rafa something to think about as a result, but the idea that he was nowhere near his top target, combined with the fact he’s unlikely to play too much (given his ‘back up’ status) means he’s facing a real uphill battle to stay at St James’ Park beyond the summer.
That said, Benitez recently admitted that Fabian Schar was no his first choice target – and I highly doubt Dubravka was either – yet both have turned out to be stellar signings for the club.