As revealed by the Chronicle, the signing of Islam Slimani was seen as a ‘last-resort’ for Rafa Benitez, with Feyenoord’s Nicolai Jorgensen and Liverpool duo Daniel Sturridge and Danny Ings all above the Algerian on his January wish-list.
As a £29m striker who had scored goals for fun in Portugal, Slimani seemed quite a high-calibre last-minute signing, but it was interesting to read here that he was anything but Rafa’s top target.
Here’s what the Chronicle’s Chris Waugh had to say on the January striker hunt, admitting that the recently banned Slimani was only signed after the club were unable to sign Rafa’s first, second and third targets:
“When Slimani joined the Magpies on transfer-deadline day, he was recruited as a last-resort option – with Benitez having failed to land any of his other targets.
“Feyenoord striker Nicolai Jorgensen was sought by the Spaniard, but United were unwilling to meet the Eredivisie club’s £20m asking price, while other forwards such as Daniel Sturridge and Danny Ings were ahead of Slimani on Benitez’s wanted list.”
Jorgensen seemed the top target, but it never seemed likely. They appeared open to selling for the right price, but in typical Mike Ashley style, we never seemed likely to up our bid enough to get it done.
Sturridge sounded close at one point, with him booked in for a medical at one point according to reports, but that’s a deal we’ll be quite happy to have missed out on. Somehow, he’s been injured more than Slimani since the turn of the year.
As for Danny Ings, it seemed like he was intent on ‘fighting for his place’ at Anfield. He’s got the odd start (three in the league since the turns of the year) and will be part of the squad that plays in the Champions League Final in a few weeks time, but I maintain that a successful loan spell away would’ve done him the world of good.
With Slimani’s recent ban ending his unsuccessful loan spell early, it’s fair to say he won’t be a striker we consider this summer. I wouldn’t be surprised if we go back in for Jorgensen and Ings this summer, however.