“I’m delighted to be joining Sunderland,” the multi-million pound signing declared to the horror of Newcastle’s press officer.
It might sound like an inconceivable scene, but new arrivals have history when it comes to getting their new surroundings mixed up amidst hastily-arranged moves to nouveau riche clubs.
Robinho spoke of Chelsea’s ‘great proposal’ at his unveiling as the face of Man City’s new era, which explains why he only lasted one full season in Manchester.
But, the Brazilian’s gaffe aside, four-time Premier League winners City have got more right than wrong since Sheikh Mansour’s takeover on 1st September 2009.
With Newcastle on the verge of a similarly seismic takeover by the Saudis, where better to look for inspiration on how to splash the cash than City’s Abu Dhabi blueprint?
First through the door will be a wounded former Galactico, jettisoned from Real Madrid because there’s a newer, better-looking model on the scene who’s now the dish of the day at the Bernabeu.
For City that meant the arrival of Robinho, with the Brazilian no longer able to find a place in Madrid’s side amidst the presence of Ruud van Nistelrooy, Javier Saviola, Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, Gonzalo Higuain, Arjen Robben, Rafael van der Vaart and Wesley Sneijder.
For Newcastle, look no further than Bond, James Rodriguez.
Having lost his way since a £63million-move from Monaco yet collecting wages only clubs funded by countries can afford, the sight of Steve Bruce excitedly clasping a bemused Rodriguez’s hand in front of St James’ Riyadh is a foregone conclusion.
Not since the machine-gun toting Tino Asprilla has a Colombian pulled on a Newcastle shirt and, while loading the bullets for Joelinton rather than Karim Benzema might take some getting used to, it won’t be long before Rodriguez’s midfield partnership with Jonjo Shelvey is the envy of Europe.
With a headline transfer secured, next through the door at City were three Premier League stalwarts in Wayne Bridge, Craig Bellamy and Shay Given.
Who are the modern day equivalents soon set to be pulling on green and white Newcastle home kits?
Bridge was a 28-year-old England international defender swapping top four football for the unknown when he left Chelsea for City on 3rd January 2009. Fast forward 11 years and it will be a 29-year-old Kyle Walker leaving City for Newcastle.
When you think about it it’s obvious. Walker has lost his place in the England team to Trent Alexander-Arnold, and will soon be ousted from Pep Guardiola’s XI by Joao Cancelo, but he’s still a major upgrade on any current Newcastle defender.
There will be enough intrigue around Newcastle’s project to keep Walker in Gareth Southgate’s thoughts, while his crosses will be landing plumb on Andy Carrol’s gargantuan forehead rather sailing over Sergio Aguero and Raheem Sterling. What’s not to love?
Bellamy’s modern-day equivalent is less apparent, given the Premier League is lacking in 29-year-old controversial wingers these days.
While Mesut Ozil ticks some of the boxes- mainly age and ability to divide opinion- he lacks Bellamy’s on-pitch verve.
Ignoring age and focusing on a prolific wingers playing for middling Premier League sides- West Ham finished 10th the season prior to Bellamy’s departure- leaves Newcastle with four clear options: Felipe Anderson, Richarlison, Wilfried Zaha and Ryan Fraser.
Well how about this for a crystal ball? Newcastle break their transfer record to sign Richarlison from Everton, who in turn sign Zaha from Crystal Palace, who in turn sign Fraser from Bournemouth. Everyone’s happy, expect for Bournemouth. And Anderson.
With goalkeeper Ben Foster also joining Rodriguez, Walker and Richarlison at Newcastle, that leaves just one more signing according to the City blueprint.
When Nigel De Jong arrived at City in January 2009 he’d already been named Ajax’s Player of the Year in a squad containing Wesley Sneidjer, Rafael van der Vaart and Maxwell, been capped 30 times by the Netherlands and scored the goal that consigned Bayern Munich to their first defeat at the Allianz Arena.
In short, he was one of the most sought-after defensive midfielders in Europe.
For 2020’s in vogue holder you need look no further than Brescia’s Sandro Tonali. With Andrea Pirlo’s hair and Gennaro Gattuso’s snarl, Tonali is the perfect bodyguard for Rodriguez and Shelvey in midfield.
What he’s lacking in De Jong’s aggression- just ask Xabi Alonso’s solar plexus- Tonali more than makes up for in Italian grace and swagger. Throw in six months with the Longstaff brothers and he’ll be Wor Tonali in no time.
In short, Newcastle can look forward to signing the Italian in addition to Rodriguez, Richarlison, Walker and Foster this summer. Tune in at the same time tomorrow when I will be revealing next week’s lottery numbers.
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