Newcastle United have £190m to spend - so who could be on their transfer list?

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Newcastle United have £190m to spend - so who could be on their transfer list?
Newcastle United have £190m to spend - so who could be on their transfer list?

Newcastle United, if their new Saudi Arabian backers allow it, could spend as much as £190 million in January without falling foul of Financial Fair Play rules thanks to the parsimonious spending of former owner Mike Ashley.

Telegraph Sport also understands that the club’s wage bill was reduced by around £12m a year over the summer which will also give the club plenty of room for manoeuvre.

Although the newly-installed members of the board have previously talked about growing the club organically with an investment of around £200m over the space of four transfer windows, prudency tends to go out of the window when you are winless after seven games, in the relegation zone with a threadbare squad that has not been overhauled since promotion in 2016 - and have the richest owners in the world.

Interestingly, part of the review announced by non-executive director Amanda Staveley, who is the public face of the consortium, will be an intensive search for potential transfer targets.

The speed with which the deadlock in the takeover talks was broken meant there has been little planning for recruitment. This time last week, nobody thought there was any chance the takeover would happen until next year.

But the search will be a meticulous one and when you have so much money to spend, and with clubs all over Europe still struggling to cope with the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, there are a lot of players to choose from.

How can Newcastle spend £190m in January and comply with FFP?

Perversely, it is thanks to Ashley, and his disinclination to spend big on facilities and players in recent years. No club in top-tier English football has more wiggle room to spend big without breaching Premier League Financial Fair Play rules.

In England, the so-called "profitability and sustainability" governance allows clubs to lose £15 million over a rolling three-year period, but this increases to £105m if the owner puts in equity investments of £30m a year, which the Saudis will do. Further allowances of around £50m are made for the club running an academy.

Given that Newcastle have returned a profit of £38m over the last three years - courtesy of Ashley spending the lowest amount of any rival on facilities and players - that will "immediately" give the Saudis a total transfer budget of around £190m, according to Kieran Maguire, a football finance lecturer at Liverpool University and presenter of the Price of Football podcast.

The market conditions appear ripe to buy in players straight away. In a post-Covid world, almost all other clubs have been forced to reign in spending significantly due to losses made over the past 18 months. Beware other clubs trying to pump up prices when Newcastle come calling, however.

"We've got a slightly subdued transfer market, but I would anticipate a Newcastle premium from anybody that's selling in a similar way to what we experienced with Chelsea and Manchester City," said Maguire.

How can Newcastle compete with the likes of PSG and Man City long-term?

Transforming commercial appeal. In the four or so years that Ashley was trying to offload Newcastle, he spent sparingly on every element of the club - but that had knock-on effects on revenue coming in.

As the purse strings are eased, the stock of the club will surge in the eyes of brands - ensuring the potential sponsorship returns increase, and therefore Newcatle have even more freedom to splash the cash without facing FFP sanctions.

In 2007, when he bought the club, Newcastle's commercial revenues were £28m and, in 2019 - the last pre-Covid year - they were still £28m.

"During that period of time, overall commercial revenues in the Premier League rose by 264 per cent, while Newcastle's flatlined," Maguire added. "It shows that sponsors and commercial partners didn't want to associate themselves with Newcastle because they were aware that there was a toxic relationship between Ashley and the fan base. Therefore they feared boycotts of their products and they couldn't extract value from the fan base. All of that disappears when Mike Ashley goes."

A lucrative new shirt sponsorship deal and new stadium sponsor appear inevitable in the coming weeks to ensure there is at least another £100m coming in to the club.

Then, as Newcastle dream of Europe, the rewards increase further - Champions League revenues of between £30m and £100m ensure football's fattest cats retain their unassailable position.

How much has Ashley made out of Newcastle in total?

Ashley has turned a personal profit of around £55m following the £305m sale of the club. Figures lay bare how Ashley presided over the footballing equivalent of an asset strip. Newcastle have spent less money on ground training facilities than any other club currently in the Premier League over the last decade.

"Because Ashley has been trying to sell Newcastle United for so long, the first thing that he's done is say, 'well, I'm not going to spend a penny more than I have to, because I want somebody else to pick up the bill for the infrastructure'," said Maguire, who calculates a spend of just £8m on infrastructure across a decade.

It cost Ashley £140m to buy the club. In the last set of accounts he was owed £107m. "It's cost him probably £250m," Maguire said. "He's walked away with £305m. He's made a profit on a business, which has been subject to chronic underinvestment during his ownership. Normally if you run a business and you take such an approach you come out with a bloody nose."

How might it still go wrong for Newcastle?

Staveley and co might take note of FFP difficulties at Wolvehampton Wanderers and Everton, who have both invested heavily in pursuit of quick success. Uefa has stricter rules than the Premier League on FFP, and qualifying for the Europa League or below is not ideal as clubs look to balance the books. Without the riches of the Champions League to offset losses, Wolves were fined by Uefa for a breach last year.

Farhad Moshiri's initially lavish spending at Everton has also caused the Merseyside club headaches.

"That was a bit of a scattergun approach," said Maguire. "After the first three years, that's when FFP really starts to bite. Now we're seeing the club having to get involved in horse trading. It's been noticeable that they've not spent this summer because FFP has hit quite hard."

Who are the big-name players who could be available?

By Luke Edwards

Jesse Lingard (Manchester United)

Turned down a new contract at Old Trafford and also rejected a loan move to Newcastle at the start of the year to join West Ham instead. But that was then and this is now and he could be a great signing for around £25-30m.

James Tarkowski (Burnley)

Will only have six months left on his contract in January and would dramatically improve a problem position for Newcastle. Has played for England, has vast Premier League experience and would almost certainly come for £10-15m.

Aaron Ramsey (Juventus)

He has been thinking about a return to the Premier League and despite advancing years was magnificent for Wales at the Euros in the summer. Would add experience and gravitas to the Newcastle project and would be under £20m.

Ross Barkley (Chelsea)

Would be a really good option on loan and would jump at the chance to relaunch his career at an ambitious club like Newcastle who could really do with a player like him in midfield.

Eric Bailly (Manchester United)

Has all the physical attributes of a top centre-back. He is struggling to get a game at Manchester United, despite recently signing a new contract, and has plenty of European and Premier League experience. Should be relatively cheap at £15m.

Mason Holgate (Everton)

A versatile defender, relatively cheap at £15m, he would be a solid addition to the squad and could do with relaunching his career after falling away from England consideration.

Callum Hudson-Odoi (Chelsea)

Was once thought to be the future of English football but has been a victim of Chelsea’s own spending power. A player who could benefit from a move out on loan with a view to a permanent switch.

Wilfried Zaha (Crystal Palace)

He will only have 18 months remaining on his contract in January and, while Palace have always been resistant to selling for anything less than top dollar, a punchy offer would be difficult to resist. The locals would love his thrill-factor.

Kieran Trippier (Atletico Madrid)

The England international is desperate to return to England and more specifically the north of England to be near his family. Would be a massive upgrade on Newcastle's current full-back options at £25m.

Dwight McNeil (Burnley)

keen to move on from the Lancashire club and was heavily linked with a move away in the summer. Could be a clever purchase and Burnley are unlikely to turn down a bid of £20m plus.

The men of the moment

Ivan Toney (Brentford)

The decision to let the forward leave by former manager Rafael Benitez was a big error, but could the former Newcastle development player be lured back to Tyneside to compete with Callum Wilson? It would take around £60m to do so.

Anthony Martial (Manchester United)

His time looks to be up at Manchester United and would Newcastle want his brooding presence to help launch their new era? Debatable, but there is still an excellent player in there somewhere and he is better than what they have if they can get him for around £30-40m.

David Brooks (Bournemouth)

He is too good to play in the Championship and was a long-standing target of manager Steve Bruce. If he has any influence on what comes after him, Brooks would be a good signing to bolster creativity in midfield and would be relatively cheap at £15-20m.

Pascal Gross (Brighton)

Would not set many pulses rating but he has been fantastic for Brighton. He will also only have six months left on his contract when the transfer window opens and would be a bargain at under £10m.

Tariq Lamptey (Brighton)

Has not played since December because of a nasty hamstring injury but is close to a return. He was one of the best full-backs in the Premier League before that and would be a vast improvement at £25m to what they have now.

Foreign-based stars

Ryan Gravenberch (Ajax)

The latest superstar to emerge from the Dutch club's famed academy, Gravenberch is already an integral part of Holland's midfield too. Unlikely to leave if Ajax are still in the Champions League in January and would be expensive at £50m.

Marcelo (Real Madrid)

He is 33 now and the Brazilian is perhaps not the player he was in his prime but he would bring star-name status and would improve a weak area of the squad. He is also out of contract at the end of the season and would cost less than £10m.

Luka Jovic (Real Madrid)

The Spanish club needs money, Jovic needs a move and the Serbian is a young striker with lots of potential. At the age of 23, he would fit the recruitment model of an upwardly-mobile club and would be less than £20m.

Samuel Umtiti (Barcelona)

As with above, Barcelona need to sell players in January, he would cost less than £20m and although he has not lived up to expectations in Spain he is a France international and is a far better player than the defenders Newcastle currently have.

The galacticos

Kylian Mbappe (Paris St-Germain)

Far-fetched? Yes, but what a statement this would be and how it would annoy Saudi Arabia’s Qatar rivals. The France international is still refusing to sign a new contract to remain in Paris and can leave for nothing in the summer. Why not sell him to a club that is still a long way from challenging them rather than lose him to Real Madrid. A cool £100m should do it.

Harry Kane (Tottenham)

Equally implausible, perhaps, but Kane's unhappiness at Spurs is well documented and the £150m fee would still leave some change for more additions. Newcastle fans love a No 9 and Kane would be an instant hero, but whether he would be prepared to drop down into a possible relegation scrap is another matter entirely.

Which players would be your pick and why? Share your view in the comments section below

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