Our second signing of the summer is set to be announced in the coming days with the arrival of Burnley midfielder Jeff Hendrick on a free transfer.
The thought of bringing in another player on the cheap following goalkeeper Mark Gillespie’s move from Motherwell has been met with anguish by a section of our supporters.
Many Mags will be content that a reliable, experienced, versatile and hardworking player who the 10th best team in the country didn’t want to lose is going to be playing in black-and-white next season – but there’s still been plenty on social media left disgruntled by the news of his arrival.
Cries of “another typical Bruce signing” and “Jeff who?” have been echoed across Twitter and Facebook. “What a surprise, another freebie” has been another common theme among certain corners of our fanbase since news began to circulate of his imminent transfer.
Now, let’s be clear, the arrival of Jeff Hendrick doesn’t place me into a total state of ecstasy nor do I think he will go down as one of the greatest players to ever represent Newcastle United.
But this type of low-key acquisition has worked out well for us in the past. Free transfers of yesteryear such as Antoine Sibierski and Demba Ba have gone on to become cult heroes on the St James’ Park terraces.
Big money moves for the likes of Michael Owen, Remy Cabella and – dare I say it – Joelinton have hardly been a master stroke for us in the past either and we mustn’t underestimate the importance of value at a time where most Premier League clubs have had their budgets cut significantly via COVID-19.
The likes of James Perch and, more recently, Isaac Hayden have had successful careers on Tyneside despite having little to no hysteria surrounding them when they first walked through the door – and I think Hendrick could do similar.
With COVID-19 damaging our transfer kitty even further than the measly amount Ashley tends to cough up, signing Hendrick could prove to be a shrewd and astute move.
Every man and his dog knows that our priority this window has to be a centre-forward. With Bentaleb and Lazaro not extending their stay in the North-East beyond their unsuccessful loan spells it leaves us short in midfield – making Irish international Hendrick the perfect squad player signing while freeing up funds for a potential striker.
Versatile across the midfield, he can play in the middle of the park as well as on either flank, and has even been deployed in the number 10 role by Sean Dyche in the past.
It’s also worth noting that he’s a cheaper and more reliable alternative to Bentaleb, who would’ve demanded a bigger fee and significantly bigger wages, by all accounts.
For the grand cost of nothing, we could have ourselves a very dependable utility player on our hands. And who knows, possibly even a new fan favourite.