Finally, Newcastle United have new owners.
Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund have completed a deal to buy an 80 per cent stake in the Premier League club, with Amanda Staveley’s PCP Capital Partners and the Reuben brothers’ RB Sports & Media splitting the rest between them.
The deal was approved by the Premier League on Thursday after “legally binding assurances” were received that Newcastle will not be controlled by Saudi Arabia, meaning the Mike Ashley era is over.
Staveley made clear the new owners’ intentions in a statement, saying: “Our ambition is aligned with the fans — to create a consistently successful team that’s regularly competing for major trophies and generates pride across the globe.”
To do that, money will need to be invested in the playing squad. PIF have plenty of it, so it did not take long for potential transfer targets to be suggested on social media once the deal was confirmed.
Could they make an immediate splash, just as Manchester City’s owners did when bringing in Robinho back in September 2008? Will they look to those at the more established sides stuck on the periphery, or target divisional rivals with assets that can be purchased at the right price?
Stats Perform has picked out some potential targets, but let the speculation begin!
Philippe Coutinho (Barcelona)
An easy link to start with, considering Newcastle will have money and Barcelona need it desperately. Barca cannot hope to recoup close to the same amount they paid for a player who has made just 49 LaLiga starts since January 2018. Without a goal or assist so far in this term after injuries ruined his 2020-21 season, the former Liverpool midfielder could return to the Premier League to try and kick-start his career. He could easily be joined on Tyneside by Samuel Umtiti too, considering Newcastle can pay the centre-back’s wages and present him with the chance to play regularly again.
Aaron Ramsey (Juventus)
Another who has struggled to recreate his Premier League performances abroad (again, in part due to injuries), Ramsey joined Juventus on a free transfer in July 2019 having signed a pre-contract agreement with the Italian club. Since then, the 30-year-old has made 69 appearances, of which 34 have been starts, scored six goals and provided five assists. His 97 minutes in Serie A so far this campaign suggests he is down the pecking order with Massimiliano Allegri, though he recently said while away with Wales: “I’m still feeling good, when given the opportunity and managed correctly.”
Isco (Real Madrid)
Once a pivotal squad member at Real Madrid, Isco has been linked with a move away from the Santiago Bernabeu for some time now. The four-time Champions League winner was used primarily off the bench by Zinedine Zidane last season, with that role seemingly set to continue under Carlo Ancelotti. Linked with Milan and Everton, the 29-year-old may welcome the chance to actually start a game for a change, while he is still a big enough name to raise interest among Newcastle fans. And, if not Isco, what about Dani Ceballos from Los Blancos instead?
Raheem Sterling (Manchester City)
Now THIS is a statement of intent. A three-time Premier League winner, a long-established England international and, at 26, still firmly in his prime. It may seem a little pie-in-the-sky thinking at first, but Sterling is no longer one of Pep Guardiola’s regulars at Manchester City. Indeed, he has started just two of their seven league games so far this season, seemingly slipping behind new signing Jack Grealish. Would City’s wealthy owners really want to sell to another club with huge ambitions? PIF could potentially make them an offer too good to refuse for a player whose contract expires in 2023.
Kalidou Koulibaly (Napoli)
While midfielders and forwards may create more of a buzz, Newcastle need to build some solid foundations if they are to have the kind of success Staveley talked about. The current defensive unit has conceded 16 goals in seven Premier League games, so it is an obvious area in need of help. Koulibaly has long been linked with Premier League clubs, including both in Manchester. The 30-year-old centre-back’s outstanding form for Napoli this season led to him receiving the Serie A player of the month award for September. He has a contract that runs out at the end of the 2022-23 season, meaning a price could be found that suits all parties to see him move to St James’ Park.
Wilfried Zaha (Crystal Palace)
It is hard to remember a transfer window where Zaha was not rumoured to be leaving Crystal Palace. The winger has now clocked up over 400 appearances for the Eagles across two stints, having failed to make an impact while briefly at Manchester United. “He’s one of the most talented players in this league and we don’t want to lose one of our best players,” Palace boss Patrick Vieira said following his appointment. Still, just the idea of Zaha lining up in the same Newcastle team as Allan Saint-Maximin is enough to make any Premier League full-back contemplate a career change.
Ross Barkley (Chelsea)
There are only so many minutes to go around and those with title hopes in the Premier League carry big squads, meaning there is a surplus of talent not getting enough opportunities. Barkley is back at Chelsea after spending the previous year on loan at Aston Villa but has so far played seven minutes in the top tier under Thomas Tuchel. Newcastle could instead target another Blues player in Ruben Loftus-Cheek, or look elsewhere in London at Tottenham, where Harry Winks makes sense and even Dele Alli could be possible, both perhaps benefiting from a fresh start at this stage of their careers.