Newcastle United’s decision-making process in the James Maddison deal alarmed some supporters ahead of the takeover.
From the outside, Newcastle looked to have finished second in a two-horse race for the England international. But the reality is that Maddison was always just one of a list of exciting transfer candidates this summer. What happened after the Maddison deal with Newcastle was key. They just pushed the process forward to fill one of their slots in the squad – it was an easy decision too.
The Magpies then appeared to have some life after a few targets. At least last summer when they started the window with Jesse Lingard on their wish list before quickly realizing the player had his heart set on a move elsewhere.
And, despite offering Lingard a good deal, Newcastle offered a “thank you for your time” before quickly moving on to other targets. Lingard went to Nottingham Forest but the deal fell through and the ex-Manchester United man is now looking for his next challenge.
READ MORE: James Maddison stance at Newcastle United was always clear as Spurs pay over odds
Since the pursuit of Lingard, which stretched from the 2022 winter window to the start of last summer’s trade period before rapidly declining, Newcastle’s own transfer needs have changed significantly. While they are a season ahead of schedule in the eyes of club chiefs, they are now looking for a certain type of player.
With sporting director Dan Ashworth now firmly in the role on Tyneside, Newcastle’s transfer process is only gathering momentum. Especially now, unlike under previous owners, the Magpies have Darren Eales focused as CEO on the commercial business rather than trying to juggle the two jobs like former managing director Lee Charnley.
Just 12 months ago, they were looking for players who could bring stability and end the annual relegation battle. No one quite expected that the season would be so close to missing out on the Carabao Cup and quickly accelerating to the end of the Champions League.
But now Newcastle want a strong squad that can both sustain a challenge for life in Europe’s top table and also make another tilt towards the business end of the Premier League table. Eddie Howe and his recruitment team know that won’t be easy as they begin to think about a strategy that will help the club get through a three-game week in the first half of the season.
However, thinking about a deep squad is key this summer and you only have to go back to last season to see that more than one competition is putting the strain on players. This is why Howe is in no rush to remove key members of the squad.
Players such as Jacob Murphy, Sean Longstaff and Elliot Anderson were not back-up players last term, they have proven to be key parts in the team at different times. True, Anderson will feel that he could start more games but he always challenges and when he comes into the team whenever anyone is neglected.
That would be the same move into a new season and Howe is looking at more of the same from that point of view by handing out deals to the likes of Matt Ritchie and Paul Dummett. Again, players who won’t start every game, but will be called upon at certain times.
What Howe is doing is the “buy-in” process and he won’t give up on finding characters willing to do the same. Maddison is undoubtedly a decent addition and will hopefully suit his England friends Kieran Trippier, Nick Pope and Callum Wilson.
However, the fact that Newcastle are happy to let Spurs pay over the odds for a player they tried to sign just 12 months ago says it all, they know there are others available for a similar price and that will not compromise the club’s commitment to the FFP rule book. Splashing £40million on a player who is in the final year of his contract would be lavish.
Newcastle know they are in the market for more stars and when you consider the Magpies are long-term investors, it tells you it’s not just about this window. It’s about getting the numbers right moving into January and beyond.
Given the “let’s hurry up the move” response from most fans after Maddison was paraded in a Spurs shirt, the Newcastle faithful were hardly shaken by the loss of a deal that once caused chaos under the former ownership.
Supporters need only look at the way United have responded after opting against certain deals under Saudi-backed owners. There are no confidence issues on Tyneside right now, and the result of Maddison’s move to Spurs proved it.
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