With the transfer deadline drawing ever closer, the rumour mill is very much in full flow, and as usual, every man and his dog has been linked to a move to Newcastle.
However while we are notorious for shying away from activity in the latter stages of the window, every once in a while the board decide to give the fans something to cherish, a deadline day signing. Over the years we have certainly had our fair share of poor signings, however even with such slim pickings, here are 5 deadline day signings who went on to be a success at the club.
5. Habib Beye – £2,000,000
Beye came into the squad under the reign of Sam Allardyce as somewhat of an unknown figure, but quickly silenced any fans’ concerns on his full debut against West Ham, putting in a performance which impressed many of the Newcastle fans.
His ability to defend well and provide a good outlet going forward have enamoured him into the Newcastle faithful, resulting in a number of songs being created in his name, including the chant of his name to the tune of Happy Days.
His status as somewhat of a cult hero was well and truly cemented after the jocular creation of the website Beyewatch.com, and on the 23rd May, 2008, Beye was named as Newcastle’s player of the season.
After our relegation to the championship, numerous articles stated that Beye had the intention of staying to help with the promotion push, however ongoing problems behind the scenes lead to his departure.
4. Antoine Sibierski – Free
Upon the arrival of Sibierski, Newcastle fans were left empty, with many considering the signing of the Frenchman as a joke. With the high profile signings of the likes of Michael Owen and Scott Parker being completed in previous windows, there was certainly a sense of disappointment around the club. However Sibierski clearly didn’t take notice, scoring on his debut in the UEFA Cup, something which Sibierski got the knack of during his short spell at the club.
Sibierski went onto score four crucial goals in seven European appearances, quickly becoming a fans favourite among the Newcastle faithful, and with the injury to Michael Owen, the Frenchman formed a successful partnership alongside Nigerian star Obefemi Martins in the league.
After Sibierksi’s desire for a further two years at the club were rejected, he moved onto Wigan, leaving a sour taste in the mouths of Newcastle fans. However today Sibierski himself labels himself as a Newcastle fan, and it’s fair to say the fans hold him in their hearts with great affection.
Kevin Nolan – £4,000,000
While Nolan didn’t have the greatest start to his Newcastle career, being part of the squad that got relegated to the championship, Kevin was an instrumental part of the promotion push. However prior to this, and maybe even more importantly, he was noted as one of the more vocal players during the off season, demanding an end to the off field distractions.
He was voted as Championship Player of the Year, earning the captain’s armband the following season. One of his most memorable moments, and one that will remain in Geordie hearts for a long time, was his contribution to the 5-1 drubbing of Sunderland in the Tyne Wear derby, scoring his first ever premier league hattrick.
Nolan provided leadership on and off the field, had an eye for goal, and we may not currently be in the premier league today without his priceless contributions.
Nolberto Solano – £1,500,000
Being the first Peruvian to play in the premier league, Solano came into the league, like a few on this list, as somewhat of an unknown character, but with his performances for the club he seemed right at home.
Interest in his first appearance in a black and white shirt was so significant that the reserve game that he was starting in was delayed in order to accommodate the masses who turned up to witness his first run out, and he didn’t disappoint, marking the event with a goal.
Scoring 45 goals in 240 games, Solano was a fans’ favourite, operating down the right hand side, always looking forward and making things happen, and it was a shame that a strained relationship with Sir Bobby Robson, was the catalyst for his eventual exit.
However, even with his distasteful exit from the club, Nobby labels himself as an “Adopted Geordie” and it’s fair to say that it’s hard to disagree with him.
Hatem Ben Arfa – Loan
Our very own mercurial boy wonder, Hatem became a favourite from day one. In a new league, with new teammates, he was not overwhelmed, but simply went out onto the pitch to enjoy himself, and as a result, kept 50,000 fans on the edges of their seats for 90 minutes. In a spell of dull football under a dull manager, Ben Arfa was not afraid to buck the trend, taking on man after man, cutting inside and out and back inside again, he really was a breath of fresh air.
His full debut was a sign of things to come, a thunderbolt from range against Everton. Magical solo efforts against Bolton and Blackburn also come to mind, as well as rockets against Villa and Fulham. He never scored a bad goal.
What was most impressive about Ben Arfa was how he came back even stronger after he broke his leg in his first season. For a young lad it would have been easy to give in, but just like when he played his football, Hatem was different.
The fans love Ben Arfa, and the feelings appeared to be mutual after an interview in which he said “When they shout, go on, go on, take him on, you can fly. It is a pleasure to play for our supporters.”
With Alan Pardew in charge, Ben Arfa couldn’t have had a much worse manager in terms of being able to express himself, and it was this frail relationship which lead to the eventual departure of Ben Arfa. With a manger who could have appreciated and understood Ben Arfa, he could honestly be one of the world’s best, and he is answering all of his critics with his current form at Nice.
Without a doubt, there is a place in every Geordie’s heart for Hatem Ben Arfa, and he would be welcome back with open arms if he ever chooses to return to SJP.