Newcastle have come a long way in a short time. Just 4 summers ago The Magpies transfer business consisted of Emil Krafth, Joelinton, Allan Saint-Maximin and Andy Carroll.
Krafth proved a useful signing, the Swedish international has since made 54 league appearances, and while looking right out of a viking slots game, has failed to capture the ire of the Vikings, finding himself ousted as a first-choice right-back by Kieran Trippier.
Saint-Maximin, of course, went on to become a fan favourite, before being sold this past summer to meet FFP regulations, much to Howe’s disappointment.
Joelinton, despite a truly woeful start, has undergone an Eddie Howe renaissance, transforming from a wayward striker to a tenacious box-to-box midfielder, capturing the hearts of fans in the process.
While Andy Carroll… Well, the less said about his return of 1 goal in 37 during his second stint here the better.
Four years later though, and the lay of the land is very different…
Breaking the bank to sign Isak for a reported fee of 70 million euros. Shelling out 40 million for young English talent Anthony Gordon, while the ill-fated capture of Sandro Tonali has left the Italian in Footballing limbo.
Newcastle have been making big moves, even if some haven’t worked quite as well as they would have hoped
With Tonali banned for the rest of the season at least, Howe will need to identify a replacement, and it seems the former Wolves man is in his sights.
It’s no secret that Newcastle and Eddie Howe have been coveting Ruben Neves for the past few months.
The transfer of the Portuguese midfielder to Al Hilal only seemed to further links between Neves and Newcastle, with many predicting a January loan move to follow.
But, with concrete interest reported, a variety of Premier League clubs have expressed deep concern over whether a loan move for Neves would be fair.
The Public Investment Fund (PIF) that bought out Newcastle in 2021 also runs the top four Saudi Pro League sides, Neves’ side Al-Hilal being one of these four.
Premier League clubs are expected to vote on the legality of Newcastle loaning players from one of the four affiliate Saudi clubs tomorrow (as of writing) on the 21st of November.
The vote will set the standard for any similar cases between affiliate clubs in the future.
While strong opposition is expected, Neves moving to the North-East would not necessarily depend on a loan move, though it would be the best option to appease FFP rules.
There would still be an opportunity for The Magpies to sign Neves on a permanent should a loan deal be blocked.
While many clubs and fans would oppose the idea on the grounds of Newcastle being given cheap prices, in reality, the signing of Neves wouldn’t be breaching any rules.
Even if there were plans to give Newcastle a favourable price, the transfer fee would have to reflect the player’s market value, with this expected to be around the £47 million mark, which was the fee for his move from Wolverhampton.
Were the price any lower, and serious questions would be levied at Newcastle, The Premier League and the interests of the PIF. But giving a cheap deal to Newcastle wouldn’t be in the PIF’s best interests either.
Such a deal would set a precedent of the Saudi Pro League being a place to earn a huge sum of money and jump ship 6 months later when a more enticing offer comes along.
A holiday home that pays dividends for players with uncertain futures at their club.
The PIF making such a deal would drastically weaken the reputation of the Saudi league, the opposite goal of the whole PIF project’s intentions.
Newcastle will certainly be paying a fair price for the highly-rated midfielder.
Furthermore, Al-Hilal will want to see their money back at least. Not just due to the precedent that giving out cheap deals gives, but so they aren’t making a significant loss, losing a marquee signing for a cut-rate price after just 4 months at the club.
It would be a disaster for the league’s image unless a fair fee is agreed on.
It remains to be seen whether the transfer will even be possible with FFP and club objection to player movements between affiliates, but Eddie Howe himself has been quoted expressing clear interest Ruben:
“He was a player we liked when at Wolves. We are open to signing players from anywhere if they’re good enough and make us better. We have to wait and see what the result of that vote is.”
There’s still even more than just question marks over the ethics of the deal standing in the way of a move however, with both Arsenal and Tottenham having also expressed an interest in signing Neves.
There is speculation that Newcastle will struggle to compete with the two London-based sides.
FFP concerns reportedly prevented Newcastle from signing Teun Koopemeiners for a fee of 48 Million, meaning The Magpies would likely have to offload a couple of players to facilitate the signing in January if the move is to be a permanent one.