Spending Saudi Gold | Season 2: Wingers Overload

If you missed part one of this new Football Manager Experiment then you missed us spending £269 million with Newcastle United in the opening transfer window of FM22. To find out how we did that, catch up in part one here.

The big-spending first season saw Newcastle reach the Champions League for the first time since 2003, which meant there was plenty of cash in the bank for ‘Director of Football’ Alan Shearer to throw around.

2022 summer transfer budget: £200 million

An initial budget of £130 million was bolstered by… wait for it… selling Joelinton! The madmen at Besiktas paid £5.25 million for him. Further sales included Martin Dubravka to Mainz for £10 million, Jamal Lewis to Brentford for £8 million and Matt Ritchie to Burnley for £1.7 million. While 21 players departed to free up a chunk of wages. However, they were then forced to sell Alexander Isak to PSG for a club-record £61 million.

However, he was quickly replaced by three of the most exciting young attackers in the world. A week later they went big to bring in Ansu Fati for £55 million rising to £85 million from Barcelona. Also coming in from Spain was Yeremy Pino, who joined for £20 million from Villarreal. Then a more direct Isak replacement arrived as Matías Arezo signed on a free transfer at the end of his contract.

A bit of midfield class joined the club in the form of Sporting man Daniel Braganca, who’s very much a favourite of the FM Addict blog from our days with Sporting and Dortmund in The Journeyman on FM20. He was joined by Man United loanee Hannibal for a year.

Prior to the Fati and Pino signings, Newcastle has already purchased Spanish international winger Dani Olmo for £55 million from RB Leipzig. He was joined by a fellow Spaniard in left-back Marc Cucurella from relegated Brighton for £15 million and backup right-back Shurandy Sambo.

With the club heading into the Champions League, Shearer decided that experience was required so he snapped up Gareth Bale on a free transfer. Because you can never have enough wingers right?

The biggest cause for concern was a new goalkeeper. After scoring the market for options and finding all of them were too expensive, Shearer moved quickly to snap up Dominik Livakovic for £7 million. He also signed Belgian Martin Vandevoordt for £24 million but he went back to Genk on loan for a season.

Those deals meant the club ran out of spending money way before transfer deadline day. But the Newcastle squad was now looking ridiculously strong, with maybe the defence still lacking a little depth:

Goalkeepers: Livakovic, Darlow

Defenders: Calegari, Sambo; Inácio, Ahmedhodzic, Lascelles; Lodi, Cucurella

Midfield: Rice, Bissouma, Braganca, Ceballos, Willock, M Longstaff, Hannibal

Wingers: Fati, Raphinha, Saint-Maximin, Bale, Olmo, Pino

Strikers: Vlahovic, Arezo, Wilson

New-look Newcastle in 2022/23

The new signings definitely enhance Newcastle’s fortunes as they sat third on 35 points, five points behind an impressive Liverpool, after 17 games moving into 2023. Raphinha led the way with 10 assists, a league-high 6 player of the match awards and the third-best average rating of 7.70. Fati and Callum Wilson both had 10 goals from 17 starts and Vlahovic followed with 9 in 19. They’d also made it safely through to the Champions League knockout rounds.

They still had £0 transfer budget and the bank balance had dwindled into the red due to Shearer’s propensity to adding “after 50 games” clauses to every transfer. But the Saudis can afford it, so who cares? Allan Saint-Maximin was also sold to Liverpool for £30 million right at the end of deadline day, because he could barely get a game and had been in poor form.

Newcastle’s form fell off in the second half of the season – including only winning one of the last five for the second season in a row – and eventually finished in 6th on 68 points. They scored 82 goals, which was overshadowed by Man UFC’s outrageous 117!, and conceded 53, which was an improvement. Wilson was the third-top scorer in the league with 23 goals and Raphinha got the most assists with 18. But 38-year-old Ronaldo was the league’s top scorer with a stupid 30 in 33!

Wilson bagged 29 goals in all competitions, followed by Vlahovic (22), Fati (16) and Raphinha (7). Raphinha got 23 assists in all competitions, followed by Fati and Olmo (8), Braganca and Vlahovic (6) and Cucurella and Wilson (5).

Things were looking good early on in the season, but the new signings haven’t really worked out in season two. However, they still have a young squad full of great talent. So maybe there’s more to come from them next year?

Howeever, out of nowhere at the end of the season, the board casually decided they were throwing up a transfer budget of £163 million. Despite only having £58 million in the bank!

So join us next time to discover how we go about spending that money in season three!

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