Newcastle not breaking bank on recruitment ahead of EPL return

Newcastle manager Rafael Benitez during the English Premier League soccer match between Leicester City and Newcastle United at the King Power Stadium in Leicester, England, Monday, March 14, 2016. (AP Photo/Rui Vieira)
Rui Vieira/AP photo

After one season in the Championship, Newcastle United bounced right back up to the Premier League. Under manager Rafa Benitez, it will now try and stay up and slowly start building the club back up again. So far in the transfer window, the club has brought in four players without spending an absurd amount of money.

With prices skyrocketing on players, and with English clubs seemingly forced to overpay as soon as they want a player, Newcastle has taken a rather economical approach in the summer, signing four players for a combined transfer fee of £14.9 million, which in the grand scheme of things is chump change for many Premier League clubs.

The first two signings of the offseason were midfielder Christian Atsu from league champions Chelsea for a reported fee of £6.2 million and French defender Florian Lejeune from Spanish side Eibar for £8.7 million.

Atsu, 25, spent last season on loan at Newcastle and scored five goals in 32 league appearances as the Magpies won the Championship. The Ghanese international has 42 caps for the national team and was part of Ghana’s squad for the African Cup of Nations early this year.

Lejeune, 26, has spent most of his career in Spain, where he has represented clubs like Villarreal, Girona and Eibar. He was signed by Manchester City in 2015 from Girona but was immediately loaned back to the club. Last summer he was sold by City to Eibar, where he impressed in his 34 league appearances.

Newcastle then picked up defender Stefan O’Connor on a free transfer from Arsenal, and defender Josef Yarney from Everton — also on a free transfer. O’Connor, 20, has come through the youth ranks at Arsenal after joining the Gunners in 2010. He never made an appearance on the first team but did have loan spells at York City and MVV Maastricht. Yarney, 20, joined Everton at the age of 8 but never made it into the first team.

Reports are that Benitez isn’t done shopping quite yet, and with owner Mike Ashley looking to sell the club, the Spanish manager might have to continue to look for players that offer good value for the money. Atsu and Lejeune should be pushing for starting spots right away, and bringing in O’Connor and Yarney on free transfers adds some talent to the prospect group without costing the club any money.

The club also has been linked to Norwich City winger Jacob Murphy. The 22-year-old scored 10 goals in 41 appearances last season for the Canaries and represented England in the Under-21 Euros this summer. With a reported fee of £12 million, it would be the most expensive signing so far this summer for the club. But seeing that it would potentially bring in one of the better players in the Championship, it wouldn’t be an overpriced buy by any stretch of the imagination.

They also have some good players already in the squad that should be able to help the team stave off relegation. Dwight Gayle was brought in last summer from Crystal Palace, and the 27-year-old striker had a phenomenal season where he scored 23 goals in 32 appearances. Midfielder Jonjo Shelvey has a handful of caps for the English national team, and has shown moments of brilliance since joining the club from Swansea City in January 2016.

With 26 days remaining until they kickoff against Tottenham in their Premier League opener, there’s still some time for Benitez to get a player or two more to strengthen Newcastle United’s chances of staying up.

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