Benitez to build a British core at Newcastle this summer?

With Christian Atsu confirmed as Newcastle’s first singing in the close season, expect this summer to be a busy one for United, as a big overhaul of players will be sanctioned. With some departures also likely to be confirmed soon (Gouffran, Anita), one interesting angle seems to be Rafa’s preference to buy British.

Rafa’s signings so far

With Newcastle facing a tough battle for promotion, and so it proved, Rafa sensibly targeted British players with Championship experience. Plans were built around Dwight Gayle and Matt Ritchie, who both played key roles in our title win.

With a wealth of European contacts, it is interesting Rafa seemingly wants to buy even more British players this summer. It certainly worked last year, as he also placed great faith in Lascelles, Hayden and Shelvey.

 

Rafa: Learnt from his Liverpool mistakes?

During his successful Liverpool reign Rafa had a hit and miss record in the transfer market. For every Torres, Mascherano or Alonso, there was an Albert Riera, Aquilani or Voronin. Of course, this is the nature of the transfer market, as Newcastle fans well know. Remember Luque and Boumsong?

However, Rafa mainly looked abroad for his dealings. He often cited better value and a better tactical awareness on the continent. Towards the end of his stint on Merseyside he pushed hard, unsuccessfully, for Gareth Barry and also signed Robbie Keane. This was an early indication that his policy had shifted; he needed players ‘who got it’ and could carry the pressure of playing for Liverpool and stand up to the pace of the Premier League.

Although not pushing for the top 4 clearly, a similar type of player is needed at Newcastle. Many years ago Jermaine Jenas famously called SJP a ‘Gold fish bowl’ and we have often seen highly rated players from abroad flop. Rafa has clearly learnt from past mistakes and wants a British core to ensure we are well clear of a relegation scrap next season.

 

The French experiment

This represents a massive shift from previous policies in the Mike Ashley era. Upon leaving the club, Joey Barton said Newcastle were looking to sign foreign, cheaper and younger versions of him and other squad members. I was there when we had our ‘French day’ at SJP under Pardew against Southampton, but the reality is that this policy has contributed to two relegation in the last seven years.

This notion works has some merit, as shown with the high profits made on Sissoko and Cabaye. But for every success there is a Cabella or Thauvin waiting round the corner. It is also quite disheartening openly buying players who you want to make money on and not especially build an affinity with the club or the fans.

 

Has a British core worked in the past?

Conversely, some of our most successful teams have been built around a British core. The entertainers of 96 and Sir Bobby Robson’s Champions League sides all used predominantly home based players. Of course, those are both different eras and more and more foreign players are in the Premier League these days.

We also have had foreign players we adopted as our own, like Nobby Solano for example, but these players tend to be rare. Tottenham are a good example of a young, British side thriving in the top flight. Kane, Alli, Rose, Dier and Walker have all evolved into excellent players. Even squad players like Davies and Trippier are British.

We should strive for something similar longer term and as Rafa has committed to, we want players who don’t see us as stepping stone. We don’t want to see player interviews of our players saying ‘they dream of Arsenal’. This policy is yet another reason of why Rafa is loved on Tyneside and an exciting summer awaits.

 

Is there any value in the British market anymore?

Naturally, the draw back of signing British players is inflated prices. With Brexit and EU guidelines potentially limiting player imports and homegrown player rules already in force, British players are in demand. Fulham quoting £20m for Cairney who has 1 Scotland cap and no Premier League experience is a prime example, or John Stones going for nearly £50m last summer.

Newcastle will be looking at British players that have potential to improve but will also know they have to pay a premium. A way round this is to target British players with 12 months left on their contracts, like we are doing with Andre Gray and Ryan Shawcross.

With their differences resolved in just one meeting, you would hope Rafa has had the assurances he needs to sign the players he wants.

 

So who could sign for Newcastle this summer?

As Olly alluded to in a previous article, silly season has arrived, but he did suggest Cairney, Gray and Maguire as very possible arrivals (hopefully!).

Other British players we could be in for is the likes of Delph, Townsend, Strurridge or Robertson. All would be great additions and coupled with the British core we already have (Gayle, Clark, Shelvey, Ritichie) would mean a strong squad but with the right attitude. They would also be accustomed to the style of play in the top flight.

It could be expensive, but signings like this would continue to build on the improved connection between the players and the fans. 100% commitment, players who love playing for Newcastle and some good football – that’s all Newcastle fans want and it’s what Rafa intends to deliver in the transfer market.

 

(Fancy writing for us? Send any articles/ideas over to us at NUFCblogsubmissions@gmail.com & 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.

17 thoughts on “Benitez to build a British core at Newcastle this summer?

  1. Well there’s lots of talk about these 2 from Sporting Lisbon. Can’t say I know a great deal about either to be honest.
    I’ve heard of Carvalho and saw him play for Portugal a couple of times. I know he’s been labelled as one of the top midfielders in Europe – but I do wonder, if that’s true, why is he still playing in Portugal at 25. If he were THAT good, one of the bigger clubs in Europe would have had him by now wouldn’t they?!.

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  2. I’ve thought that too Sharpy but he still has a great reputation. Wenger wanted him last year I remember but SP are very hard negotiaters. I first noticed him playing against England U21s when he ran the game. I’d have him!

    Simon I don’t think Rafa cares about an English core and it’s an overstated advantage too. Look at Chelsea.

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  3. Funny how we’re never linked with Germans. There must be some fringe players at Bayern or Dortmund who fancy a go at the PL.

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  4. I’d take them two, Sharpy. Although I think out of our league – I am sure the top teams are after them.

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  5. I see no evidence yet that Rafa ‘wants to build a British core this summer’. There has been a deluge of transfer talk with no sources quoted, as usual and everybody is guessing, like usual. Some sites are even writing articles suggesting clubs ‘should sign’ this or that player. Just complete conjecture. For every British player I see us linked to, we are linked to 2 or 3 foreign players.

    Nobody knows what his plan is. May as well write that he is targeting players with a preference for busty blondes…

    It’s difficult to write in off season, I can appreciate that but there is better stuff to research and write about with a bit of imagination…

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  6. shamrock:
    I see no evidence yet that Rafa ‘wants to build a British core this summer’. There has been a deluge of transfer talk with no sources quoted, as usual and everybody is guessing, like usual. Some sites are even writing articles suggesting clubs ‘should sign’ this or that player. Just complete conjecture. For every British player I see us linked to, we are linked to 2 or 3 foreign players.

    Nobody knows what his plan is. May as well write that he is targeting players with a preference for busty blondes…

    It’s difficult to write in off season, I can appreciate that but there is better stuff to research and write about with a bit of imagination…

    Judging by the WAG pictures in bikinis in the Daily Hate Mail saying we should target football players who have a preference for “busty blondes” doesn’t narrow our search down too much. And it seems to cross national boundaries as well, so it wouldn’t be a buy British policy either.

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  7. Rafa hard at work foregoing a summer holiday to get things on track for us apparently. Such a contrast to previous summers where the manager, board and owner bugger off on their jollies then play catch up for the rest of the summer chasing one unobtainable target and bring in a few buy to sell players.

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  8. Stuart79:
    I’d take them two, Sharpy.Although I think out of our league – I am sure the top teams are after them.

    Stu – my worry would be they are similar to Shakira & Imbula at Stoke. Big reputations & big price tags, but fail to deliver.

    I could be wrong, and would be happy to be wrong if we got them.

    It could well be that SP have wanted silly money for them from the top clubs. It’ll be interesting to see what happens like.

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  9. It may sound counter-intuitive but I think the fact that Man U and City, and especially Liverpool and Chelsea qualified for the Champions League may mean more players are available. They will want to upgrade their squads so some of the younger/fringe players may be available. As has been mentioned on here before, Lucas is available. Also, Loftus-Cheek must be getting a bit pissed off only playing league cup games. There must be others as well and they all have fringe players that would be starters for us and shouldn’t cost an arm and a leg (unless their name is Jordan Ibe).

    I have mentioned this before as well but Chelsea had more than 40 players out on loan last year. They may not all be good but some will be. Remember they have loaned/sold Lukaku, de Bruyne and Schurrle in the past. They got like 20-25 million for each but with the figures being asked for even average players now that doesn’t sound crazy anymore.

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  10. Is Loftus Cheek actually any god? i have heard he has potential but have never seen him other than a fleeting glimpse.

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  11. Sham: Loftus-Cheek is always talked about as the next big thing at Chelsea. So was Josh McGeachran and he disappeared from sight. They seem to think highly of him but then they go out and buy Kante. The fact it is Chelsea and they have such a big squad makes me think he might be decent but has always been behind older and better known players.

    You are right though, sometimes a players reputation may not be warranted by what they have done on the pitch. All the scouts seem to like him though as he is invariably mentioned as someone other teams would like to loan.

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  12. bloody Siko is at it again,says hes not playing enough games wants words with the manager about games next if hes not in the first team he will have to ask his advisers to find another club as he needs to go to the world cup as the French manager said if he not playing every week he will not be picked,hope the Spurs fans are enjoying him 😆 one ****-head

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  13. Ice: I don’t really understand how these scouts, managers and directors of football cannot see what the regular fans can. We knew Sissoko had no end product but Spurs still spent 30M on him. Palace fans made fun of us when we said Pardew was ****e after he had got off to his customary good start. Then he had his equally customary plunge into the Pardew death spiral.

    The things these two have in common is their arrogance, overestimation of their abilities and love of making their mouth go. Sissoko is right though, he probably will not get much time at Spurs as Son had a great season and Lamela is due back from injury. He is certainly not getting in the team ahead of Kane, Alli and Erikson, so that leaves him on the sub’s bench. We could have told them what they were getting – he is quick and very good at running with the ball but he doesn’t have the final pass or shot.

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  14. Eric Sykes:
    Ice: I don’t really understand how these scouts, managers and directors of football cannot see what the regular fans can. We knew Sissoko had no end product but Spurs still spent 30M on him. Palace fans made fun of us when we said Pardew was ****e after he had got off to his customary good start. Then he had his equally customary plunge into the Pardew death spiral.

    The things these two have in common is their arrogance, overestimation of their abilities and love of making their mouth go. Sissoko is right though, he probably will not get much time at Spurs as Son had a great season and Lamela is due back from injury. He is certainly not getting in the team ahead of Kane, Alli and Erikson, so that leaves him on the sub’s bench. We could have told them what they were getting – he is quick and very good at running with the ball but he doesn’t have the final pass or shot.

    it just beats me mate,bet the Everton manager is over the moon he didnt make a fool of himself over the dummy,as you say how can managers and scouts judge a player after ONE good game at the euros

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  15. Sissoko is a strange one though, he has the potential to be another yaya but in reality his work rate, intelligence and decision making have him level with obertan.
    I wonder if it’s the managers fault for believing they can always get the best out of him when really, he is overachieving whenever he does something good and is at his level when he’s the lazy, useless, clueless headless chicken we know he is?

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