Despite spending £469 million in two years and a bright start to the second season, Newcastle United ‘only’ finished sixth in 2022/23. That made preparation for season three difficult as they missed out on the Europa League, which meant some of their best players wanted out.
2023 transfer budget: £210 million
‘Director of Football’ Alan Shearer’s starting budget of £163 million was bolstered by flogging Dominik Livakovic to Spurs for £17.5 million and Dani Ceballos to Brentford for £16 million. While last season’s top scorer Callum Wilson requested to leave and had 12 months on his contract, so he joined Arenal for £34.5 million, which is a pretty decent deal.
The first signing of the summer was striker Raúl Jiménez, who’d scored 41 goals in the last two seasons for Wolves, for an initial £14.5 million.
They also went big to strengthen in defence, spending £60 million rising to £95 million to bring in Wesley Fofana from Leicester. He was followed by a much-needed new right-back as Dodo arrived for £31.5 million from Shakhtar, for a fee that met his release clause.
They mulled over signing Jude Bellingham for £103 million, but couldn’t quite afford the deal. Instead, they went for former Barcelona midfielder Ilaix Moriba, who came in for £40 million from RB Leipzig. And he was joined by another Barcelona product in 18-year-old Gavi for £25 million. Another midfield option arrived in Matteo Guendouzi, who signed on a free and helped to meet homegrown rules.
Adding to that were a couple of massive wonderkid loan deals. The first was Eduardo Camavinga, who joined from Real Madrid for a year, followed by Youssoufa Moukoko coming in from Dormund for a year. Joining them was centre-back Kaiky on loan from Man UFC.
A bit of wheeling and dealing on deadline day saw Renan Lodi shipped out to Roma for £20 million. That enabled him to be replaced by Theo Hernández for £37.5 million from AC Milan.
That left Newcastle with, on paper, a very strong squad and absolute wonderkid central with Camavinga, Fati, Moriba, Pino, Arezo, Gavi and Moukoko at the club.
Goalkeepers: Vandevoordt, Darlow
Defenders: Dodo, Calegari; Inácio, Fofana, Ahmedhodzic, Lascelles; Hernández, Cucurella
Midfield: Rice, Moriba, Gavi, Bissouma, Guendouzi, Willock
Wingers: Raphinha, Fati, Olmo, Pino
Strikers: Vlahovic, Jiménez, Arezo, Moukoko
Shearer also sacked Ruud Gullit and replaced him with a better assistant manager Alfred Schreuder, in the hope that might improve the team’s matchday fortunes.
What £679 million gets you…
Top of the league at Christmas, that’s what it gets you! Newcastle led the way after 19 games, one point clear of Arsenal. But it was very close at the top with seven points between first and seventh place Spurs, who have two games in hand.
Valhovic has scored 12 in 17, Fati has 10 in 19 and Olmo leads the way with 8 assists. But new men Fofana and Hernández are the top performers with 7.57 and 7.55 average ratings.
There was no money available in January, in fact, the club had a negative bank balance as the new year began! So there was no transfer activity through the January window.
The new-look team’s good form did continue through the remainder of the season, despite dropping off a little. However, they managed to finish second behind surprise champions Tottenham. A pretty low-scoring season saw Spurs win the league with just 80 points, four points separated the top five and there were just six points between the top six! And Leicester got relegated.
Fati was Newcastle’s top scorer with 28 in 40, followed by Vlahovic with 21 in 33. Olmo racked up 18 assists followed by Dodo with 14 and Bissouma with 9. Olmo was the best player at the club with an impressive 7.68 average rating in 37 games followed by Fofana (7.45), Vlahovic (7.37) and Fati (7.28).
The Newcastle board, delighted to be back in Europe, handed out a transfer kitty of £170 million ahead of season four.
Join us next time to discover how Alan Shearer sets about strengthening his squad for a tilt at the title!