With the start of the 2015/16 Premier League season less than two weeks away, the transfer rumour mill is in full swing, no more so than at Newcastle United. Chairman Mike Ashley’s TV interview before the West Ham game to finish last season promised that more cash would be spent and it seems the controversial businessman has been true to his word.
Georginio Wijnaldum and Aleksandar Mitrovic have come through the door at St. James Park, with defender Chancel Mbemba expected to be announced once visa and work permit issues are ironed out. Around £35 million in transfer fees have been shelled out on these three players, something unheard of at Newcastle in recent years. And according to reports, the spending won’t stop there.
Various newspapers, bookmakers and the infamous ‘ITKs’ have linked Charlie Austin with Newcastle United since it was confirmed that QPR had been relegated from the Premier Division.
On the surface, Austin looks like an ideal Newcastle number nine. Powerful and with an eye for goal, Austin scored goals in a very poor side last season, a commodity highly sought after in the Premier League these days. 18 goals in 35 starts for the London outfit averages at just under a goal every two games, highly impressive figures at any level, let alone the best league in the world. All signs seem to point towards a no-brainer of a signing for Newcastle. However, there are signs pointing towards why Newcastle don’t need Charlie Austin.
QPR have slapped a £15 million price tag on Austin, despite the player only having twelve months left on his contract. Newcastle have already paid their third and fourth largest ever transfer fees in signing Wijnaldum (£14.5 million) and Mitrovic (£13 million). Austin’s supposed fee would match that of a certain Alan Shearer, with only Michael Owen costing The Magpies more money; some company for a player who was playing non-league football just six years ago.
Furthermore, the money spent on Austin could be spent improving other areas of the squad. Despite the imminent arrival of Mbemba, Newcastle are in desperate need of another centre-back to bolster their defence. Mike Williamson is simply not Premier League standard, Fabricio Coloccini is past his best and Stephen Taylor has always struggled with injuries. A left back would not go amiss too, with Paul Dummett and Massadio Haidara both young players who need time to develop.
Where are Davide Santon and Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa when you need them, ey?
Another issue is the position itself. Despite problems in front of goal last season, Newcastle have a lot of attacking options going into the new campaign. Along with Mitrovic, Papiss Cisse, Emmanuel Riviere, Ayoze Perez, Yoann Gouffran and Adam Armstrong can all play in the central striker position. Question marks over Cisse’s future have been circling for a while now, but you cannot deny the Senegalese international’s influence and goal scoring record on this Newcastle United side.
Presuming Mitrovic is going to be a starter and Perez and Gouffran can operate out wide, that would leave Austin and Cisse battling for the other central striking spot with Riviere as a backup. The stats from last season all point in Austin’s favour. He bettered Cisse on goals (18 to 11), assists (5 to 1) and chances created (23 to 6). Austin also shaded shot accuracy too, posting an impressive 67% of his shots on target to Cisse’s 57%.
However, it is widely accepted that Cisse has the ability to lead Newcastle’s line and fire them back to the glory days, should he keep injury and suspension free. The battle between the two is something Steve McClaren needs to think carefully about before bringing the English hitman in.
All in all, Austin would be a good signing for Newcastle. The Geordie faithful love a goalscorer and Austin would guarantee goals, something that is not easy to come by. However, the prices being mooted are extremely high for a player with a year left on his contract, so you could not blame Newcastle for looking elsewhere.