Following weeks of being linked to Gareth Bale, Philippe Coutinho and Edinson Cavani, Newcastle United’s summer looks to be a sobering one. This was always likely to be the case following the failed takeover, with a rumoured budget of £35 millions plus sales. Mike Ashley is an uninterested owner and is not going to pump in big money to nullify the effect of the current pandemic. However, as supporters continue to put pressure on the Premier League and the failed takeover lingers in the background, it is crucial the club are active in the transfer market.
According to the Guardian, they are set to sign Jeff Hendrick on a free transfer following his departure from Burnley on a free. Supporters have been quick to relate this to the lack of ambition at the club, but that seems to be a very unfair to the Irish international.
If this transfer does go through, Newcastle would be getting a vastly experienced Premier League player without paying a fee. In the current climate, that can’t be seen as a bad piece of business by the club, especially as Nabil Bentaleb (end of loan) and Matty Longstaff (end of contract) are unlikely to be at St James’ Park next season. This leaves a lack of depth in midfield and Hendrick will add competition for places.
Despite their stature as a sleeping giant, Newcastle will be a lower mid-table Premier League club battling relegation until an ownership change eventually happens. That has been the existence of the club under Mike Ashley for 13 years, aside from one campaign that saw them finish in 5th.
With that in mind, Hendrick would add Premier League experience to the squad. This has been something that has been lacking in a lot of the signings over the past 12 months. Only Danny Rose had previously played in the English top-flight when he was signed and his short term future may not be at St James’ Park.
During his time at Burnley, he accrued more than 100 appearances in the Premier League, with a contribution of nine goals and five assists. Sean Dyche’s team may not be the most talented in the top flight, but every individual player shows an impressive work rate and they have managed to punch above their weight for several years. That energy and willingness to leave everything out on the pitch could be an invaluable addition to the Newcastle squad.
A free agent in a position Newcastle need to strengthen with over 100 Premier League matches to his name is a no brainer for the club. If the deal does get completed, it would be a solid addition and leave the budget for the summer largely untouched. This could give the club greater room for manoeuvre in their search for attacking and full-back reinforcements.
Supporters should await the closing of the transfer window before judging the club too harshly. If Jeff Hendrick is the first major addition through the door, it needs to be considered a positive for the club. However, they will need to back that signing up with a striker, a winger and a left-back at the very least.
This is not going to be the headline-grabbing summer of recruitment that Newcastle were hoping for, but it is important that they do find value. The current squad needs reinforcements if they are to survive for another year with the unpopular manager/owner pairing of Steve Bruce and Ashley.