We don't have any signings... we don't even have a backroom staff to work with Steve McClaren. We don't care! The rumors must roll on!
As the Charlie Austin Turns
Speaking on a personal level, I gave up on Austin a week ago, but the most recent stories seem to be reinforcing that the likelihood of the QPR striker heading to the northeast is 0.000000813%. Suggestions that Austin would like to stay in London have installed West Ham and Chelsea as the favorites but also encouraged Alan Pardew to stick the boot in with a "cheeky" bid of his own. Of course, it should be noted that the board of Crystal Palace jumped in and said "Yeah... nah." Regardless, the odds that the club (even within their Brand New Attitude) will pony up enough in the wage packet to overcome Austin's desire to not be in Newcastle are extremely low.
Updated Likelihood Rating: 2/10 because never say never, I guess.
As the Bas Dost Turns
The Dutchman – if we are to believe the stories that float around based on, well... I don't know exactly what stories are based on in the transfer window – has also had his position clarified over the last couple of days. He is at least willing to come to Newcastle in some degree, but the story is that he is dragging his feet every little bit he can in a "come get me plea" to preferred destination Borussia Dortmund. Nothing will ever be a surprise in a Mike Ashley-era Newcastle United transfer "saga", but we are meant to believe that McClaren and Co. are the frontrunners at this point, if only because Dortmund have not made a move for the Wolfsburg man.
Updated Likelihood Rating: 9/10 because nothing has really happened to change this appreciably since Adam did this last and I do believe that he'll end up at St. James' as well.
Joel Matip (Schalke 04)
The most recent batch of rumors have largely rested on the defensive side of the ball, which is good. As a club we have been woeful at the back for years and
reinforcements replacements are badly needed. Matip would be a tremendous start. The German-born Camerooninan CB has made a name for himself in the Bundesliga and already has 26 caps for the Indomitable Lions as well as 158 appearances for Schalke. Did I mention that he's only 23? He is 6'4" and would seem to be solid enough (at 196 lbs) to deal with the physicality of the Premier League. He seems to play the CB role with a touch of DM added in, intercepting attacks before they make it to the back line proper. This could be a good trait (taking pressure off the back line) or a bad trait (enhancing gaps between CB that have been exploited by PL strikers for years). If this idea is truly how he will play it, Fabricio Coloccini is going to need to have a very strong bounceback year or Steven Taylor is going to need to stay healthy... or a fourth candidate will need to be acquired.
Desirability Rating: 9/10 He is young, experienced at the top level and seems to be physically ready for the Premier League. It requires a lot of "ifs", but "if" he is paired with a partner who is playing at a high level and "if" Cheick Tiote stays at NUFC and returns to his former and best self, things would feel oh so much better at the back.
Likelihood Rating: 6/10 I've turned off all pessimistic now. I can make a great case for getting him, so of course the club will not... but hey, Brand New Attitude and all, right?
Robin Knoche (Wolfsburg)
Knoche is another accomplished young Bundesliga defender, but there has not been much steam following initial reports that Newcastle might be interested in him. On a very superficial level, it might feel that Knoche is not quite as PL ready as Matip as he comes in at a very slight 6'3" and 170 lbs, but he has been successful for Wolfsburg, so it isn't easy to make any kind of judgements based solely upon that. At any rate, he is a name that was out there but hasn't gained a lot of traction. Perhaps we file him in under "One to watch when we don't get Matip over the line".
Desirability Rating: 8/10 "starlets" flame out all the time, but the potential upside with Knoche is very high.
Likelihood Rating: 2/10 ... he has a big reputation and played well at the U21 World Cup, but this seems more like a Chelsea pickup than anything our club could ever cobble together.
Ron Vlaar (Aston Villa)
Vlaar is an interesting one. He is available (currently) on a free from Villa and has suggested that he can play at a higher level than the Birmingham club. While we like to think that we would fit that bill, we really mostly don't... although with appropriate reinforcements to go along with him we certainly could do so. On the flip side, a CB pairing of Vlaar (30) and Coloccini (33) would probably be far from ideal, even if Vlaar would bring "steel" to the back line. Frankly, Steven Taylor brings "steel" and a better elbow, from what I can tell. Vlaar seems to have ranged from "not so good" to "very good" and had injury problems last year... not something that we can really afford to sign up for based on where it looks like we're headed for another year - a paper-thin squad.
Desireability Rating: 5/10 If he's healthy, maybe he overtakes Coloccini and pairs with a new signing or even Steven Taylor. Such a pairing would be better, but likely not good enough to make an appreciable difference.
Likelihood Rating: 4/10 The price is right, but he is on the extreme older side of what has recently been demonstrated with our squad movements (outside of Coloccini).
The Catch-all Bucket of Random Wild Speculation™
Here are some quick hits on names that have been "connected" with Newcastle in one form or another or who are newly "available":
- Ashley Cole (Roma) - No. Just no. He's 34 and well past his prime. Now that I think about it, though, he's really good at falling down in the attacking penalty area and we aren't very good at getting penalties. A move for Cole would be a complete scuppering of the transfer policies that have been in place for years. They don' need scuppering... they just need slight modifications. (D Rating: 0/10; L Rating: 0/10)
- Chicharito (Manchester United) - Out of favor at Man U, he made the wise decision to try to get his career back on track with a loan move to Real Madrid. He got more games than he might have, but not enough to re-track his career. He is fast. He can score goals. He is effective on the counter attack. He is offside a TON. This was another one off type story, but I could see him as a useful piece... probably not a starter though. (D Rating: 5/10; L Rating 1/10)
- Ladislav Krejci (Sparta Prague) - The Czech winger has a big fan in former NUFC goalkeeper and noted Toon-phile Pavel Srnicek, who is currently coaching with Sparta. In Srnicek's own words, "Krejci is a left winger and a very, very good player. The season before last he was absolutely fantastic – maybe last year he needed to do a little bit better but the whole team was not at its best". Rumors put him at £5m which is relatively low, but bringing him in would necessitate some further moves at the left wing. Sammy Ameobi was offered a new contract, Sylvain Marveaux is still a thing and Rolando Aarons is (hopefully) the next great thing. (D Rating: 6/10; L Rating 3/10)