Recent media reports have tried to put a number on the amount Mike Ashley is willing to spend in this summer’s transfer market.
The Sun’s Alan Nixon claimed last week that Steve Bruce is set to be handed a “war chest” of around £50million – a surprise figure that stood out like a sore thumb when several outlets have suggested a sobering budget of around £12m plus player sales is more realistic.
With Saudi takeover noise rumbling in the background, it seems unlikely that Ashley would be willing to splash the cash, but there could still be some shrewd options for us out there if we play our cards right – even on a limited budget.
Here we look at five quality, yet cost-effective options who could improve our squad AND fit into our ‘worst-case scenario’ budget being bandied around by the press:
1. Adam Armstrong
Our academy product bagged an impressive 29 goals for mid-table Championship side Blackburn last season. Still just 24-years-old, he is wanted by a host of top flight clubs including West Ham, Southampton and Norwich. With one year left on his current deal, it’s now being reported that Rovers could sell for as little as £8million. NUFC have a trump card up their sleeve; a 40% sell-on clause we installed when he left to join Blackburn in 2018, meaning we could sign him back for as little as £4.8million!
2. Josh King
The former Bournemouth striker is available for a free this summer after failing to impress in his short stint at Everton. With Dwight Gayle and Andy Carroll’s contract situation currently up in the air, many Toon fans would regard the Norwegian as an upgrade and someone who could link up with the likes of Callum Wilson and Ryan Fraser.
3. Jetro Willems
The popular Dutchman is also available on a free this summer and has made his feelings clear about wanting to return to Tyneside. He hasn’t played a minute since picking up a knee injury against Chelsea in January 2020, the game that cut his successful loan spell on Tyneside short. New Brexit regulations could scupper the deal, but this is definitely one to look out for as the summer progresses.
4. Kristoffer Ajer
The Celtic defender has been heavily linked with a move to Newcastle this summer for a deal worth around £6-8million, with him expected to leave on a cut-price fee now he’s entering the final 12 months of his current deal. Ajer, 23, is a 6”6 ball playing centre-back and has played an impressive 170 times for The Hoops since singing in 2016. With Florian Lejeune expected to leave and uncertainty existing over the futures of Schar and Fernandez, the Norwegian would add some freshness to an ageing NUFC backline.
5. Conor Gallagher
The England U21 star was one of the shining lights in a poor West Brom side across 2020/21, and he’s expected to be loaned out once again ahead of the new season.
We were linked last summer and could benefit from his energy, versatility and goal threat, with him able to play in a holding role or as more of a no. 10.
Two appealing free transfers, a cut-price deal for Armstrong, £6-8million move for Ajer and Gallagher in on loan would make for a pretty decent summer – especially if we could then used money received from player sales to bring Joe Willock back to the club!