With Lewis Gibson completing a £6m move to Premier League rivals Everton, despite never making a first team appearance for Newcastle. The 17 year old is highly rated and one of the few bright spots to come from our academy in recent years. Is the deal good business for Newcastle or a sobering reminder of just where we now stand following years of underachievement?
Good business or demoralising?
On the face of it, £6m for a teenager who has not even played for the reserves is a big fee. After all, there is certainly no guarantee that Gibson will realise his potential at Everton, or if he had stayed. There are countless examples of players not pushing on and making the big step to first team football, let alone flourishing in the Premier League. It shows the crazy state of the market that such a fee is mooted for someone so young and unproven; though his ‘home-grown status’ will no doubt appeal to the Toffees.
On the flip side, academy players and local ones at that, are the most exciting players to watch breakthrough for fans. Local players of real quality have not been developed enough at Newcastle in the last ten years or so, with Carroll the only one to generate real excitement before he was sold to Liverpool. The purpose of the academy is create players for the first team and selling someone so early is demoralising. That being said, he has not trained for a few months and was pushing for the move. United have done well to get such a hefty fee but it is clearly concerning a local player and Newcastle fan doesn’t want to stick around, even at 17.
The state of the academy
This brings us nicely onto the wider question of whether our academy is up to scratch. Gibson clearly feels his development is better served at another club. We have only recently had the academy status upgraded to match our Premier League rivals after it was downgraded to category two a few years ago. When Rafa agreed to stay, he raised concerns of the quality of facilities and was shocked at the poor infrastructure of the academy. He sees it as a long term project and we can certainly learn from the likes of Spurs and Southampton in this regard.
An update from the club as to when they finally plan to build the new academy site after years of talking about it would be well timed. The Gibson fee could help with this but you feel with modern football, transfers are more pressing and it will be added to Rafa’s coffers instead. Newcastle need to learn from this episode and improve our academy; that much is clear.
We clearly need to improve to compete with Everton
It is also a stark reminder of how we have sipped down the pecking order. It wasn’t too long ago we were competing with the likes of Everton on and off the pitch. Poor management under Ashley has certainly seen us fall behind. That being said, these clubs now poaching our local players is even more concerning. We need to keep improving and get back into the top 10. Staying in the top flight and keeping the TV money is central to this, so let’s hope Ashley backs Rafa this summer to begin this rebuilding process. I am sure Newcastle fans would love the exciting transfer window Everton fans are currently enjoying.
We need Rafa more than ever
If younger players leave us in our current state, it just underlines just where we would be if we didn’t have Rafa. The ‘Rafa effect’ we all anticipated in attracting big names this summer may not have materialised as we thought it would this summer, or even Rafa himself thought. He remains a big name and top manager and if we had another second rate manager such as McClaren, the future would be bleak. Like any manager though, Rafa needs good players to help him out. Merino looks a good capture from Dortmund, so let’s hope more follow.
What do you think of the Gibson deal and our academy?