You've doubtlessly seen the Daniel Sturridge to Newcastle United for an obscene amount of money rumor that was started (apparently) by the Star. It really doesn't matter where it's started, frankly. It is extremely easy to figure out exactly where the roots of the rumor like and it is equally easy to figure out why it is a non-starter. Just for fun (since we haven't torn a rumor apart for a while), let's pluck it from its bones and go on with life.
The Roots of this rumor:
The Media enjoy talking about Newcastle United in one form or another. It's imminently more fun now on the heels of two consecutive windows in which Mike Ashley has followed through on his promise – made just prior to Carver's Last Stand – to invest in the playing staff. It's fun to talk about a club that is a) spending when other clubs largely were not, and b) changing direction from long-held business practices. It becomes even more fun on the heels of the January window that Newcastle United put together.
You are all familiar with the players that Steve McClaren pushed for and received in January. Henri Saivet, Jonjo Shelvey, and Andros Townsend all joined the club, the latter two in spite of the January Inflated Cost Index and the Young English Player Surtax. Reports of £12m fees for both 23-year-old Shelvey and 24-year-old Townsend on the heels of £14,500,000 for Gini Wijnaldum, £13,000,000 for Aleksandar Mitrovic, and £12,000,000 for (likely "lightly borrowed") Florian Thauvin are surprising given Mike Ashley's history. That's all disregarding the reported £21m+ all-cash bid that was made by the club in order for Preferred Media Partner™ Sky Sports to have something to talk about on Transfer Deadline Day. We'll get to that in a little bit, though.
What is most important about the acquisitions of Jonjo Shelvey and Andros Townsend in particular is the underlying narrative behind both players. With Euro 2016 being contested this summer, both players are highly talented young players who have been capped by current England manager Roy Hodgson. Both have seen their career on the slight downhill of late. Both, on top of filling needs in Newcastle's squad, have points to prove. They're fighting for their careers. Filter out the fun Euro 2016 narratives, add in "well they were willing to spend x money on Saido Berahino" and play off of the young English player needing career recovery, who do you have? Well, I guess Saido Berahino, but there's no fun in talking about that one any more... and Daniel Sturridge. Sturridge has bounced around among Sky6 sides, first breaking through with Manchester City and spending time at Chlesea before making the £12m move to Anfield. Along the way, he has constantly battled injury problems. From our friends over at the Liverpool Offside:
Since joining Liverpool in January of 2012, Sturridge has played 72 games and scored 44 goals. He has missed 75 games through injury.
Let's be fair. Sturridge ticks a lot of boxes to be a Newcastle United target.
Point to Prove ✔
Moderately reasonable transfer fee ◽
Let's remember that, according to reports, Newcastle United weren't willing to advance on £21,200,000 all cash up front for 22-year-od Saido Berahino just seven days ago. Sure, Sturridge has more goals to boast of, but Berahino is 4 years his younger and lacks the injury history. Ultimately, however, this rumor is being built upon the bedrock (!) that is our January interest in Berahino.
Newcastle United's Berahino "Interest"
Rumors of Saido Berahino moving on from West Bromwich Albion can be found In the January 2015 window, just after Tony Pulis took over at the Midlands club. On January 2, 2015, WBA's technical director was quoted in a story from The Guardian as saying "£20m would not be enough to prise [Berahino] away from The Hawthorns". From that point, Berahino went on to be West Brom's leading goal scorer in the 2014-15 season. Transfer windows and rumors passed and Berahino remained with West Brom. Liverpool, Manchester United, and Tottenham were also connected at various points with the England U21 player. West Brom, for their part, insisted that the player was not for sale. It was suggested that a £25m bid would activate a release clause in the player's contract in this January article from Lee Ryder. In the same article, Ryder asserts that Newcastle were told earlier in the window that Berahino was not for sale, a position that they had held for at least the calendar year leading up to this window just closed.
Before moving on, let me say this: I don't have much problem with the club's 2015-16 season recruitment. I like the players. I like that Steve McClaren is driving the recruitment to at least some degree. I don't like the timing of some of the deals (leaving it *so* close to the beginning of the season to get the Chancel Mbemba deal done, for instance). I like the fact that the club are spending appropriate money on appropriate players. Having said all of that, here is the thing: the Berahino "saga" was never about bringing a player in.
If there truly was £21,000,000 cash just lying around the Newcastle United board room, the money from that reported bid would have then been aimed at bringing in defensive reinforcements. Instead, it's as likely as not that the money never existed. Newcastle never came close to the number that was known to be the number that West Brom literally couldn't refuse. In fact, there were noticeable ulterior motives to the Deadline Day fixation with Berahino:
Newcastle United know how to drive a narrative. Window closing in 3.5 hours and we’re all talking striker rumors, not defense. #NUFC— ComingHomeNewcastle (@ComingHomeNUFC) February 1, 2016
If the club were truly targeting Berahino, they knew the number that it would take to get the deal done. Instead, they were thrilled for Preferred Media Partner™ Sky Sports prattle on about Berahino. Why? They had made a decision that they were not going to reinforce the defense. Again. If the money was tied up, however, in "pushing for a move for Berahino"... The club come off as looking like they were trying to further reinforce the striking ranks, had a ridiculous bid (which they KNEW would not be accepted) knocked back. "We tried." In spite of all of the good that happened in the summer and January windows, we were left in the same place.
Walter, what's the point?
The point is: The January pursuit of Berahino wasn't a pursuit of Berahino. The rumored interest by Newcastle in Daniel Sturridge needs the Berahino story to have been genuine. Without genuine intention with regards to Berahino that was knocked back by West Brom, there is no leg on which a £30m bid for a perma-crocked striker can stand.