Newcastle United have been unusually busy in the current transfer window, with some particularly impressive signings coming in from both France and the Netherlands. New vice-captain Siem de Jong and tricky winger Remy Cabella are in that rare bracket of signings that lift a club’s supporters; they are expected to affect The Toon’s fortunes both immediately and in style. However, considering de Jong’s injury-rife previous campaign and Cabella’s worryingly lightweight frame, they are still, to some extent, a gamble in the Premier League.
The business that has impressed me most for The Magpies this summer has been the acquisition of three quality young Englishmen — something missing from the club for too long now. Last season, the only regular English starter for Newcastle was ‘Iron’ Mike Williamson, a player whose performances perennially teeter somewhere between unexceptional and solid. He is, by no stretch of the imagination, a world beater.
The other English players in or around the first team included local liability Steven Taylor and injury-prone namesake Ryan Taylor. Dan Gosling, a man who runs like he’s giving Mike Tyson a piggyback, was shifted out, whilst a young batch which included Sammy Ameobi, James Tavernier and Remi Streete simply didn’t prove good enough.
Newcastle’s recruitment bigwig, Lee Charnley, clearly decided that now was the time to prioritize bringing in some native talent. And kudos must go to him for that. Judging by Nottingham Forest manager Stuart ‘Psycho’ Pearce‘s outrage at losing two of their best young players to Newcastle, those players could well have bright futures at St James’ Park. Goalkeeper Karl Darlow has been heavily tipped for an England call-up one day while commanding central defender, Jamaal Lascelles, already looks something of a beast at the tender age of 20. He has also represented England at U18, U19 and U20 levels.
Although Darlow and Lascelles have been immediately loaned back to Forest for the new campaign, Alan Pardew has made noises about them being an important part of Newcastle’s future. And for a reported combined £7,000,000, you can’t argue that seems like shrewd business. In light of recent British transfers which include prices of £35,000,000 for Andy Carroll, £20,000,000 for Stewart Downing and £24,000,000 for Adam Lallana (all to Liverpool, coincidentally), the sell on value for Newcastle’s new boys could be astronomical. And as we all know by now, owner Mike Ashley is first and foremost a businessman, and thus I would not be surprised if he personally gave these deals the rubber stamp of approval.
In addition to Darlow and Lascelles, The Magpies managed to whisk away one of local rivals Sunderland‘s prized assets, Jack Colback, on a free transfer. This, for me, represents one of the deals of the summer, and that includes football’s entirety. The ginger-haired midfielder is already an established Premier League player, can play in various positions and has that good old-fashioned combative approach in the engine room. He has impressed in preseason and was Newcastle’s standout performer against Premier League champions Manchester City.
So, three seasons down the unpredictable Newcastle United line, they could be lining up at least three Englishmen in Darlow, Lascelles and Colback. But, more importantly still, those players would make up the spine of the team, perhaps along with promising young forward Adam Armstrong. Pundits and managers agree that having a strong spine is imperative for success, and that would be at least one Englishman in each central area of the pitch — something unheard of in English football’s top tier. Newcastle United may have some serious value on their hands, but only time will tell how it is dealt with.
Ryan Hill is a soccer writer for RantSports, follow him on Twitter @ryanhill93