Spending Saudi Gold | Season 4: £1 Billion Later…

Newcastle United finished 2nd in the Premier League in 2023/24 – only behind surprise title winners Tottenham. But a bumper transfer budget meant ‘Director of Football’ Alan Shearer had a busy summer ahead of him.

2024 transfer budget: £324 million!

An initial budget of £170 million was significantly boosted by selling Calegari to Fulham for £38 million, Marc Cucurella to Dortmund for £30 million, Joe Willock to Leeds for £25 million, Raphinha and Yves Bissouma to PSG for £24.5 million and £17.75 million, Daniel Braganca to Napoli for £14 million, Raul Jimenez to Lazio for £12.5 million and Karl Darlow to Norwich for £675k.

Armed with ridiculous amounts of cash, Newcastle went out and made a statement signing. That saw model professional striker Lautaro Martínez arrive from Inter for £72 million rising to a potential £124 million.

That move followed on from two previous massive deals. The first was Yousouffa Moukoko’s loan deal turning into a permanent transfer as Newcastle paid an optional £50 million fee.

He was joined by another strong cog in the Newcastle defensive machine as Fikayo Tomori arrived from Milan for £43 million, which could rise to £91 million. And he was joined by a backup full-back option Joao Cancelo and backup goalkeeper Gavin Bazunu from Man City for £12.5 million and £1 million.

They strengthened the squad by bringing in left-back Nuno Mendes from PSG for £50 million, and a fellow PSG player as Marco Verratti signed on a free transfer for a year. Then they paid the English player tax to bring in a much-needed homegrown player as Dwight McNeil signed from Burnley for £30 million.

In total, Shearer blew £257 million in the summer of 2024. That took his total spending past £1 billion in four seasons! He also got a new assistant manager in Benni McCarthy, who plays a more suitable 4231 or 442 (rather than last season’s 352).

And the latest business leaves the squad looking very strong:

Goalkeepers: Vandevoordt, Bazunu
Defenders: Dodo, Cancelo; Fofana, Tomori, Inácio, Ahmedhodzic; Hernández, Mendes
Midfield: Rice, Gavi, Moriba, Verratti, Guendouzi
Wingers: Olmo, Fati, Pino, McNeil
Strikers: Martínez, Vlahovic, Moukoko, Arezo

What does £1 billion get you?

Not very much, if the results in the first half of 2024/25 were anything to go by as Newcastle sat a disappointing 7th after 19 games, some 11 points behind leaders Chelsea. They’d lost five times, three of which were against Man UFC, Spurs and City, in a disappointing step backwards. However, they did qualify from a Champions League group with PSG, Roma and Rangers then drew Leipzig in the first knockout round. More worryingly, Shearer’s board rating was down to a D.

So Shearer decided it was time to start stamping his authority on matchday and told his assistant to play an attack-minded 4-2-4 with most of the first 11 locked in. That resulted in 2-0 wins over West Brom, Leeds and Everton, a 1-0 win at City and a 4-0 thumping of Arsenal led by a hat-trick by Vlahovic, who scored 11 goals in 5 games in January. So they stuck with that approach from now on.

And that worked an absolute treat as the new-look Newcastle went on a scintillating run through the second half of the season. After spending over £1 billion on new players, Newcastle United became Champions of England for the first time in 2025. They did so with just 79 points, which is the lowest winning tally in the league’s history, finishing one point clear of Liverpool and Chelsea.

They achieved this feat courtesy of possibly the best form you will ever see on Football Manager from the sensational Dusan Vlahovic. The striker scored 45 goals in 45 games (39 starts) in all competitions and 34 in 30 in the league. That included smashing Jamie Vardy’s record by scoring in 13 consecutive Premier League matches and 35 goals in 24 games from January onwards. And he won the Best Player in Europe ahead of Haaland and Mbappé and the European Golden Shoe. What a beast!

Newcastle also won the Carabao Cup for a second time in this save, smashing Man UFC 5-2 in the final led by a McNeil brace. They also reached the Champions League quarter-finals before being knocked out by Real Madrid.

Behind Vlahovic, Moukoko was the next top scorer with 14 goals followed by Ansu Fati and Martínez (13), Dani Olmo (8) and Wesley Fofana and McNeil (6). Olmo was again the top assists maker with 15 followed by Fati (12), Moukoko (11), McNeil (10), Vlahovic (9), Dodo (8) and Gavi and Theo Hernández (7).

The board handed Shearer a £132 million kitty in order to strengthen his team for a Premier League defence. And there were plenty of areas that he had identified to rebuild.

So there you have it, spend over a billion quid with Newcastle, and they can become Champions of England. Shocker. Join us next time as Alan Shearer sets about blowing even more Saudi Gold!

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