Newcastle United Summer Transfer Window Verdict 2023 | THT Opinions

With the summer transfer window now slammed shut, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at the dealings of Newcastle United in the market.

Following an exhilarating 2022/23 Premier League season that saw them qualify for the UEFA Champions League for the first time in over 20 years, Newcastle United have spent some sizeable money this summer as manager Eddie Howe looked to bolster his ranks ahead of potentially another season of breaking new ground.

Since the takeover in 2021, Newcastle United have transformed from a yearly relegation-battling side with next to no ambition to a side battling in cup finals and heading to the Champions League, where they have been drawn against top-level European opponents such as Borussia Dortmund, Paris Saint-Germain, and AC Milan.

A lot of this has been down to Eddie Howe’s fantastic management, which has brought the best out of the talent at his disposal. Another part has been some shrewd business in the transfer market. And they continued the same recruitment strategy this past summer.

Newcastle United pulled off a real masterstroke to kick-start their summer business. After making smoke-screen bids for Inter Milan’s Nicolo Barella, they secured the blockbuster surprise signing of Sandro Tonali from European giants AC Milan, which really set the tone for the rest of the summer window.

Moving north with considerably less hype was Harvey Barnes, who, while costing significantly less than Tonali at £39 million, looks to be a fantastic addition to the club, as Howe wanted a prolific goal-scoring winger for some time, and the former Leicester City left-winger is just that.

The Magpies’ summer has not only been about offence, as Dan Ashworth has brought in some young and exciting defensive options in the form of Valentino Livramento and Lewis Hall. The Toon forked out just shy of £32 million on the former, who is seen as a long-term replacement for Kieran Trippier. Hall, meanwhile, has joined the club on an initial loan deal. However, they are obligated to make the move permanent come next summer.

With the club adding a slew of new faces to the team over the last 18 months or so under their Saudi Arabia-based ownership, it’s not surprising to see a number of the old guards slowly phased out along the way to balance their FFP books. Allan Saint-Maximin left the north-east for Saudi Arabia earlier in the summer in what was a controversial transfer.

Chris Wood moved to Nottingham Forest permanently for £15 million, and Karl Darlow swapped St James Park for Elland Road in a deal worth £400,000. Other exits have been either loans or free agents. The Hard Tackle now brings you all the definitive Newcastle United summer transfer window round-up ahead of their imminent return to the Champions League and delivers its verdict on their performance.

INS: Sandro Tonali (£55 million), Harvey Barnes (£38 million), Tino Livramento (£40 million), Yankuba Minteh (£6 million), Lewis Hall (loan w/option to buy for £28 million), Cathal Heffernan (Undisclosed), Reece Byrne (Undisclosed), Travis Hernes (Undisclosed)

OUTS: Allan Saint-Maximin (£23 million), Chris Wood (£15 million), Karl Darlow (£400,000), Ryan Fraser (Loan), Jeff Hendrick (Loan), Jamal Lewis (Loan), Matty Bondswell (Loan), Yankuba Minteh (Loan), Jay Turner-Cooke (Loan), Kell Watts (Loan), Garang Kuol (Loan), Max Thompson (Loan), Niall Brookwell (Released), Ciaran Clark (Released), Dan Langley (Released), Matty Longstaff (Released), Josh Stewart (Released), Isaac Westendorf (Released)

Marquee Signing

Sandro Tonali

While Newcastle United have made several impressive signings this past window, it would be hard to argue against Sandro Tonali being the pick of the bunch, a genuine marquee signing. The Italian international made the switch from boyhood club and last season’s Champions League semi-finalists AC Milan early in the window in a deal.

There have been some truly outrageous fees paid for midfielders this summer. Moises Caicedo moved to Chelsea from Brighton & Hove Albion for £115 million, a British transfer record for a player who has had just one season in the Premier League. The same goes for Romeo Lavia, who moved to Stamford Bridge for £58 million. It’s absolutely madness.

It looks even more ridiculous when you consider Newcastle United paid AC Milan just shy of £55 million for Sandro Tonali, who has played Champions League, Serie A, and international football for several years now.

There is a reason why a long list of interested clubs, including Manchester City, Manchester United, and Liverpool, were all keen on the former AC Milan star at one stage. Signing Tonali from under the noses of the aforementioned top guns marked a true statement of intent from Howe and PIF as Newcastle looked to consolidate their place among England’s elite and become one of Europe’s powerhouses in the near future.

The 23-year-old Italian international led AC Milan to the Champions League semi-finals last season and will look to deliver similar successes for the Magpies on the European stage as Eddie Howe’s men prepare for the upcoming Champions League campaign.

Value for Money Signing

Lewis Hall

Newcastle United have got an absolute gem in highly-rated Lewis Hall from Chelsea. While one would say spending almost £28 million (eventually, as it is a loan with an obligation to buy) on an 18-year-old with just nine Premier League appearances under his belt is risky business on paper, Hall is a special talent. And it will not be long before he would be deemed as a true value-for-money signing when he is excelling at Newcastle under the tutelage of Howe.

A boyhood Toon supporter, Hall’s Premier League debut coincidentally came at St. James’ Park in Chelsea’s 1-0 loss away to Newcastle United in what was somewhat of a breakthrough season for the wonderkid, who was one of Chelsea’s bright sparks in an underwhelming 2022/23 campaign.

Injuries to first-team players like Ben Chilwell and Marc Cucurella helped his cause, as he was straightaway thrown into the deep end from the start against some of the very best Premier League teams like Newcastle, Manchester City, Liverpool, and Manchester United across the Premier League, FA Cup, and EFL Cup.

Dynamism, bravery, pace, intelligence, close control, and deadly wicked crosses from his preferred left foot were all brought to the fore by Hall, and every Chelsea fan could just attest to the fact that the kid is special and unique beyond his age, despite being the youngest and least experienced of Chelsea’s three left-backs. No wonder many Chelsea supporters have been left scratching their heads as to why the Blues hierarchy chose to sell him to the Magpies.

Hall will initially provide much-needed competition at left back to Dan Burn, which is vital, especially with the number of games Newcastle will be playing this season given their Champions League campaign. However, it will not be surprising if the teenager establishes himself as a regular staple on Eddie Howe’s side before the turn of the year.

Inevitable Departure

Ryan Fraser

While Ryan Fraser was not an Eddie Howie signing, he had previously played under the manager at Bournemouth. The 29-year-old winger departed Bournemouth after his contract expired in June and did not sign an extension because he did not want to “risk injury” during the coronavirus pandemic.

Having downed tools at Bournemouth, he looked to a new challenge in the northeast of England as he joined Newcastle as a free agent in 2020. Fraser’s time at Newcastle has also been fraught with controversy and consistent injury problems.

The former Bournemouth winger claimed two assists in 18 Premier League appearances in his debut season at St. James’ Park. Fraser registered two goals and three assists in 27 league games the following season. While he had moments of quality under Steve Bruce, Eddie Howe joining Newcastle looked like the end of the road for Ryan Fraser.

Despite their past, Howe was keen to move forward with Fraser initially. With some vital goals and electric performances, often from the bench, Fraser looked to fight for a spot at the club. Sadly for Fraser, around the time of the League Cup final, it all went south, as Fraser was demoted to train with the Under-21s due to his poor attitude.

With Newcastle now looking to push on into Europe, Fraser was deadweight, taking up wages at the club. With just two goals in 53 appearances on Tyneside, Fraser has moved back to the south coast and will spend the next season on loan in the Championship with Southampton. It is fair to say that the diminutive winger will not be missed at St. James’ Park.

The Big Miss

Issac Hayden

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The 28-year-old, who joined the Magpies from Arsenal in 2016, has not played a competitive game for Newcastle since December 2021, having spent last season out on loan with Norwich City. But he made only 14 appearances in the Championship with injuries hampering his time at Carrow Road.

Hayden has been deemed surplus to requirements at St. James’ Park, with the midfielder not having been given a spot in Eddie Howe’s plans and being forced to train away from the first-team squad.

He saw two loan moves away from Tyneside collapse in the final days of the transfer window. A switch to Premier League newcomers Luton Town broke down when the player and the club failed to agree terms over wages. Then a proposed move to Championship side Sheffield Wednesday failed to materialise, with reports suggesting that Hayden had failed his medical.

However, all is not lost for the Arsenal academy graduate, who may have found a new home for this season on the continent. According to reports, Standard Liege are close to agreeing a deal to take Hayden on loan for the season with an option to buy. The Belgian transfer deadline is on Wednesday, meaning the move still has time to be ratified. It remains to be seen whether he can finally get his career going away from Newcastle.

Verdict: 8/10

In an ideal scenario, Eddie Howe would have signed a right-sided central defender as cover and competition for Fabian Schar, a dynamic right-wing upgrade on Miguel Almiron, and not sold maverick Frenchman Allan Saint-Maximin, whose unpredictability will be missed, especially against elite-level opposition. But FFP restrictions dictated this window.

It is still early days, but the £55 million Italy midfielder Sandro Tonali already looks like an excellent purchase for a very reasonable price and is capable of improving the team’s ball retention and passing volume, while Tino Livramento and Lewis Hall are talented young full-backs, affording the squad increased depth right now, and will be mainstays on flanks in the near future.

Harvey Barnes is another reliable and efficient attacker who can provide goals and assists from wide areas. Not only did the Magpies work hard to ensure that they have a competent first-team for the here and now.

But as all elite clubs tend to do, they brought in a raft of talented youngsters for the academy who they will hope make the grade in the future, with Yankuba Minteh, Travis Hernes, Michael Mills, Sam Alabi, Sam Pinnington, Kevin Zefi, and Kacey Wooster arriving at Newcastle over the last number of months.

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