There are essentially three main transfer strategies that Newcastle could take this Summer. And today, in the first installment of a three-part series, we are looking at the 'Fringe Investment' option: an approach that involves Newcastle investing in older, more experiences players to bolster the apparent 'thin' squad.
As the new season begins to dawn, slippery tabloid journalists are beginning to wake, and with this sad reality, false rumours and links will be abound by July.
Worse still, websites like GiveMeFootball and CaughtOffside do the same, not to keep everyone busy but because agents pay them to spread rumours, in hope of drawing public attention to their clients.
Because so many of the rumours flying around are untrue and entirely baseless, it would be a futile exercise to start speculating as to which individual players Newcastle are planning on bringing in – especially now, when the European transfer window isn’t even officially open.
However, what is worth speculating on is the type of player Newcastle want to sign.
As has been said enough times, Newcastle did not enjoy the best of seasons this year. As such, many would argue serious investment is needed. There are essentially three main transfer strategies this Summer that Newcastle could take:
- Fringe investment: Alan Pardew has often bemoaned how thin his squad is, suggesting a need to bring in a few experienced squad players who can supplement the first team and ensure that when quality players are injured the team does not suffer too badly.
- Big name signings: Some fan sites and blogs have argued that what the team needs is new quality – players who can slot into the first choice XI immediately.
- A Quiet Market: the final, and most likely option, is to leave the team largely as it is, with only one or two new signings to facilitate the lubrication of a side slowly gelling together.
If the side is in need of new squad players, as Alan Pardew suggests it is, then it would seem that experience is key.
In general, it is not of much benefit to have youth players as squad players, despite the number of clubs that do so.
Firstly, many of the younger players, even if they have talent, are not well accustomed to such a high level of football as the Premier League to be expected to play well every week – a good example of this is Sammy Ameobi, who ended up having to go to Middlesbrough on loan as he found the standard of the Premier League to be above and beyond his current level.
There are very few players under the age of 22 who can genuinely consistently deliver in the Premier League having come straight out of an academy – even if they impress initially, eventually their immaturity and a lack of variety to their play shows and they fail to maintain the same level of play for an entire season.
Raheem Sterling is a classic example of this, going from an England cap in November to being out of the side by February and then getting injured and missing the rest of the season – which brings this argument to the second point against younger players: in order to develop, they need first team action on a regular basis.
There is no benefit to them or to their club if they are spending every week on the bench unless there is an injury crisis. Such players would be much better served going out on loan to a lower league club and finding game time there, rather than getting reserve team football once a week and three minutes as a time wasting sub for the first team once a month.
In contrast, experienced footballers are used to the standard they will be expected to play at, and can offer that quality consistently – any player who has played at Premier League level for seven to ten years is unlikely to be inconsistent.
They can also offer much by way of leadership and personality in the dressing room – it is worth noting how certain clubs tend to keep older players around purely for this reason.
United still keep Ryan Giggs for his sheer presence as well as his evergreen ability, Liverpool have benefited hugely this season from the leadership of Jamie Carragher, and Everton are the same with Phil Neville.
Even if they have only just been brought into the club, often these players still have the same effect. It is interesting how two of QPR’s best players this year have not been the younger stars like Granero, Samba, Hoilett, Fabio and M’Bia but instead the centre back duo of Clint Hill and Ryan Nelsen.
In the same vein, Fulham bringing in the 32-year-old Dimitar Berbatov this year proved a masterstroke, as did Liverpool’s summer 2011 signing of Craig Bellamy, also 32.
Clearly, there is much to be said for bringing in an experienced player, who will be a positive influence on the squad even when he is not playing. On the downside, they are normally only around for two years at most, and it is highly unlikely that any money will be made from their sale or release.
However, if it’s decided that Newcastle need a few more squad players to provide bolstering, then capitalizing on the older, supposedly ‘past it’ players could not only be the cheapest but also most effective way forward; just ask AC Milan if they regret letting the then 32-year-old Andrea Pirlo leave for free in 2011, a player rashly deemed as ‘past it’.
Tomorrow we will be publishing a second transfer strategy: ‘Big Name Signings’, and investigating the positives and negatives of spending big for immediate Starting XI players.