Newcastle boss Steve McClaren finally has a few things to shout about at St James’ Park, following Aleksandar Mitrovic and Georginio Wijnaldum’s moves to the north east for combined fees of over £27m – i.e. serious money.
Wijnaldum’s £14.5m capture is the most expensive the Geordies have managed since Michael Owen’s £16m move from Real Madrid a decade ago, so following that up with a similarly-costly purchase in £13m-plus Mitrovic feels like a statement of intent.
However, now Newcastle owner Mike Ashley has let the genie out of his wallet there’s much work to be done, and money to be spent, before a side that only saved its Premier League skin on the final day of last season can be taken seriously as top-ten challengers.
Only basement boys QPR let in more goals than Newcastle’s whopping 63 concessions last term, with Aston Villa’s 57 the next worst of the sides that stayed in the division.
With captain Fabricio Coloccini always a bad day away from wanting to head home to Argentina, local boy Steven Taylor perennially injured, and big question marks hanging over the suitability of both Mike Williamson and Paul Dummet, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that McClaren must strengthen at centre-half.
Taking that into account, Newcastle wrapping up a deal for Schalke’s Cameroon international Joel Matip by the close of the transfer window, which has been mooted countless times already this summer, is starting to feel like a banker at 17/10 with bwin.com.
Simply put, McClaren has been linked with very few players in the position since he took over in the north east, and rumours that the former England boss is poised to pounce aren’t going away, with new Schalke chief Andre Breitenreiter forced into talks over the 23-year-old’s future earlier this month, according to the Newcastle Chronicle.
At a reported £10m, Matip would rank as a very astute capture considering his weight of Champions League experience, which includes starting the first leg of his side’s semi-final against Manchester United in 2010/11, aged just 19.
In other Newcastle transfer news, McClaren is still thought to be keeping tabs on Florian Thauvin, the Marseille winger who bagged five goals and laid on four assists in 32 Ligue 1 starts for his side last season.
Thauvin is thought to be disillusioned with life at Stade Velodrome following the departures of Andre Ayew, Andre-Pierre Gignac and Dimitri Payet, after Marcelo Bielsa’s men missed out on Champions League qualification in May.