Had you asked me three years ago if there was any chance of Eliaquim Mangala being a Newcastle player, I wouldn't have even entertained the thought. He was destined for the Etihad three years ago, and City were sure they were getting the next Vincent Kompany.
The price tag is often reported as £42 million, which would have been the case, had the required amount of add-ons been met. In actual fact, the transfer fee paid out by the Citizens was closer to £30 million. Whether those added installments were paid, that will ultimately depend on the deal that was inked between the two clubs.
The former Standard Liege striker (yes, you read that correctly) made his debut against Chelsea in September 2014 and he looked absolutely immense. He has shown glimpses of almost everything you would want in a defender. A cultured left-foot, strong, hard in a tackle and most of all, frighteningly quick. He looked well worth his price tag.
Then, somewhat bizarrely, things went sour. A couple of shaky moments led to Mangala being in and out of the team during his debut season. Slowly, it really appeared to be eating away at his confidence. A really talented player was beginning to look out of place in the Premier League. He was found guilty of being caught high up the pitch and rushing into challenges. It just really seemed like he was trying too hard to impress, and the harder he tried, the worse and worse the outcomes were becoming.
Manuel Pellegrini literally could not have made matters worse for Mangala the following summer. In comes Nicolas Otamendi from Valencia for a reported £35 million. A very highly-rated ball playing defender, one that would ultimately emerge as City's first choice each week. As Otamendi adjusted to the Premier League slowly but surely, Mangala was finding himself stuck on the bench too often, and his future looked to be away from the club. When Pep Guardiola was confirmed as the new manager heading into the 16/17 season, many thought he could save Mangala's career, but the opposite could not be more true.
Almost immediately, the man once hailed as the next big thing, was deemed surplus to requirements by the aforementioned Guardiola. He joined Valencia on loan, a club in real turmoil. Just ask Gary Neville. An extremely poor season for the Spanish outfit culminated in a 12th place finish in La Liga. You don't have to be a Spanish football expert to tell just how below par that is.
As for Mr. Mangala, the fact that he played 32 of their games, (most of which he started) resembles a steady, if unspectacular season. Quite a portion of Valencia fans have made it known that they would very much like their club to shell out the reported 18 million euro to active the purchase option in his contract. However, given that finances are problematic on their end, that is where Newcastle United come into the picture.
Mike Ashley has promised that Rafa Benitez can have every penny available to the club. Spending power in England dwarves most other European clubs, and this could be another case of that.
The bottom line is, for £15 million (approximately), Eliaquim Mangala would be a very good signing. Yes, his past experiences in the country were less than convincing, but he was by no means the disaster that he was made out to be. He did not live up to his price tag, which is fair, these things can happen in football especially. That does not make him a bad player, it simply means that he went a step too far, too soon.
A 26-year-old, with all of the raw tools needed to be a top defender. One that shown such promise that one of the best teams in Britain agreed to part with massive money to bring him in. £15 million for a defender that will, hypothetically, be working under the tutelage of Rafa Benitez, is a no-brainer. Do it.