Note: This is the latest breakdown of transfer moves leading up to the 2018-19 Premier League season. This post will be updated throughout the transfer window as appropriate. \
I am pleased to see that Newcastle United made some improvements to their defense. However, their defense wasn’t really their weakness last season — they were 7th-best in the league for fewest goals allowed. The much larger problem and the one addressed for 11 days until money called was goalscoring. There were only 6 teams that scored fewer goals, 3 of them were relegated.
Overall, I’m not really blown away by their transfer activity — I still think they have a huge hole in their side for goals. Their defense might improve, cool, but until their offense can catch up, any negative goal difference will hold them back from being competitive in the top half. Their defense will have to rival the top defenses in the world to be able to scrape by on the pitiful amount of goals scored. They need to improve here, immediately. The seasonal difference is astounding they went from 85 goals for and 40 conceded (+45 goal difference) from championship to the Premier League where they scored only 39 and conceded 47 (-8 goal difference).
(Update: I am revising my stance somewhat on their transfer activity after signing Muto, I think they’ve done a lot to fix their goal scoring problem. And in the end they’ve done it rather cheaply — after Merino in (and then out), and Muto into the club, their net expenditure on strikers is only $6.5M. Ultimately, I think that using the proceeds from Merino’s short, but highly profitable stay reduces the pressure on Muto somewhat. I think the side will be able to at the bare minimum bring their goal difference to even, with the possbility to far exceed that.)

Ins:

  • Yoshinori Muto ($12M from 1.FSV Mainz 05) – Muto has only featured in about 20 league games per season for Mainz, but the return seems very reasonable. In 2015-2016 he appeared in 20 games contributing 7 goals 4 assists, in 2016-2017 he offered a similar return on 19 games; contributing 5 goals and 3 assists. In 2017-2018 he played in 27 games and contributed 8 goals and 4 assists. In total, he’s made 66 league appearances for a total of 4,421′ (~74′ per game) scoring 20 goals and adding 10 assists. Over his career with Mainz that’s a goal every 221′ and an assist every 442′. If he maintains this pace, he’d easily be on track for 15 goals and just shy of 8 assists, so for $12M I think this is a great signing for the Magpies. Honestly, I anticipate his production to exceed those estimates as the quality of players will be much better generally speaking in this Newcastle side than what he worked with at Mainz.
  • Mikel Merino ($7.7M from Borussia Dortmund) – I’m not going to write too much on Merino because Newcastle did little more than act as an intermediary for a transfer that would ultimately take him from Dortmund to Real Socidedad. He was a Newcastle player an entire era, 11 whole days, meaning he probably barely met his teammates let alone became part of the Newcastle squad.
  • Fabian Schär ($4.4M from Dep. La Coruña) – I’m torn on this transfer, it makes me nervous that this will be his 3rd club in 3 years; he’s been with Hoffenheim, Coruña, and now Newcastle. In addition to floating around to a number of different clubs, he’s not really playing that many games at each stop. In two years with Hoffenheim he only made 32 appearances across all competitions (an average of 70′), and he was actually sold at a loss to Coruña. He did play in more games at Coruña (27) for an average of almost 90′ but his performances seemed very inconsistent. I think all you have to look at in order to see that — is the fact that they only required $4.4M to pry him away from a club that bought him the prior year for $3.3M. I hope that he surprises me, but generally, you don’t sell players that you think are important — and defenders really should be important players.
  • Martin Dubravaka ($4.5M from Sparta Prague) – I think Dubravaka is a vast improvement over the existing keepers, and apparently impressed the coaching  staff and management last year while he was on loan to Newcastle. Dubravaka, although will a 12 game sample size, is giving up on average just over 0.9 goals/game (11 goals conceded) and keeping 4 clean sheets. For comparison, Darlow is averaging nearly 1.5 goals/game (15 goals conceded) with 2 clean sheets across 10 appearances. Rob Elliot is averaging nearly 1.3 goals/game (21 goals conceded) with 3 clean sheets across 16 appearances. Amongst the 3 keepers, Dubravaka is the clear statistical choice for a very unsettled position for Newcastle. I think that with Dubravaka’s arrival and ultimate ascension to starting keeper will provide some much-needed clarity in the back line and will help lower the concessions.
  • Sung-Yong Ki (Free Transfer from Swansea) – If you been reading anything I’ve written, you know I love a Free Transfer addition. I think this one has the potential to be a great signing for the squad, as he’s fresh of captaining his national team through the World Cup. And anytime a non-Big 6 can steal a player away from a major club in another league (in this case A.C. Milan) that’s always a win. Ki is coming off some blistering performances for the national team, but his club form hasn’t always kept up — hopefully this will change for the Magpies.
  • José Salomón Rondón ($2.5M loan from West Brom) – Rondón comes into Newcastle after the swap that saw Dwight Gayle go the other way. In total, Rondón made 40 appearances across all competitions last year, providing 10 goals and 4 assists averaging 77′ per game. Rondón has been a fixture in the Venezuelan side since mid-2016 and has been named an alternate captain for the side. His goalscoring record has not been prolific for his country, but I think his leadership will go a long way for this Newcastle side. I think this is a decent move by Newcastle to bring in quality players without substantial transfer outlay and I look forward to seeing how this plays out.
  • Federico Fernández ($7.5M from Swansea City) – Fernández has been a solid centerback starter and captain for the Swans for four years. I think that the Swans must have been in dire need of cash or were afraid they would lose him to a free contract. The Swans also sold him for a loss to the Magpies, so I think that Newcastle has done a wonderful job of obtaining talent at a cut-rate price. I think Fernández will fit right into this new side, even with all of the new signings that the ‘Pies have brought in to the club. He’s the only true centerback signed this window, and they released one centerback and allowed Mbemba to leave for more than they paid for Fernández.

Outs:

  • Aleksandar Mitrovic ($22M to Fulham) – Where to start with this one… I’ll be honest, I don’t get it. The biggest problem Newcastle have had was goal scoring and through a very limited sample, 40 league appearances, across 3 seasons he was averaging a goal every 236′ minutes, while also adding 4 assists. Assuming the trend continued, he would be on pace for roughly 15 goals this season. About the only positive I can draw from this was that after holding on to him (and largely not playing him) for 3 years they still managed to make a $2M profit. I guess if this was sanctioned by Rafa — it may be a huge show of confidence in Muto.
  • Mikel Merino ($13.25m to Real Sociedad) – I think that this is the epitome of buying low and selling high especially given the fact that the transfer out came only 11 days after his transfer in. That’s basically indicating that Merino’s value rose $0.5M per day over that holding period. Good on the cash strapped club to make a quick $5.5M.
  • Massadio Haidara (Free Transfer to RC Lens) – Haidara wasn’t involved hardly at all last season; he was either injured or on the bench with the exception of 3′ the final game of the season. I think his role is very limited in a side at this level and as a result I completely understand the decision to let him move on.
  • Stuart Findlay (Free Transfer to Kilmarnock) – Findlay didn’t appear for the first team at all in 2017-2018. He played two games for the reserve side before being shipped off to Scotland. Where he was able to earn 27 appearances and eventually a new contract with the Scottish side. No loss to Newcastle.
  • Curtis Good (Released) – Good was only a regular for the reserve side, he never even appeared for the Premier League Newcastle. He made a few cup appearances and some league 2 sides. Clearly the best move is for both parties to just move on.
  • Jesús Gámez (Released) – Gámez appeared in 10 games over two full seasons, and only twice in the Premier League. He only ever played about 45′ average, I think this is the best possible move by the club.
  • Adam Armstrong ($2M to Blackburn) –
  • Ivan Toney ($1M to Peterborough) –

Last update: August 13, 2018

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