For several years at St James’ Park, Mike Ashley and the tedious blue print that comes with him has insisted that we only ever buy and keep players of a suitable age.
This has meant the signing of young talents under the age of 26 and new contracts rarely being given to players entering the latter years of their career.
Rafa Benitez clearly had real issues with this policy, with him being unable to sign Salomon Rondon permanently, having to move heaven and earth to get a £4m deal sanctioned for Federico Fernandez and fail to tie Mo Diame down to a new deal – with the club reportedly unwilling to offer the ‘two year-deal’ he wanted.
In comes Steve Bruce and Mike Ashely’s approach to such matters appears to have changed slightly.
Not only was the NUFC boss allowed to sign Danny Rose in January – a player approaching his 30’s on ‘top six’ wages – but he’s convinced Ashley to hand new deals to THREE senior players at Newcastle United, with Jonjo Shelvey (28), Matt Ritchie (30) and Federico Fernandez (31!) all signing extensions over the past week.
I still get a strong feeling we’ll continue to take risks on young talents with ‘potential’ in the transfer market, with any new striker signed this summer likely to be a European import who could go either way, not a proven Premier League striker who’s guaranteed to score 10-15 a season, but it seems Bruce is certainly getting more out of Ashley than Benitez did.
Is this because he’s a ‘yes man’ who generally agrees to toe the line? Or because he doesn’t challenge the NUFC owner like Rafa Benitez did?
Who knows, but at a time where Mike Ashley gets very little right, I’m delighted to see us keep a hold of Federico Fernandez in particular – a player I previously feared would be allowed to leave on a free this summer because he was ‘too old’.