Eyebrows were raised when Newcastle United agreed to pay £40M to Hoffenheim for the services of Joelinton last summer. The striker has registered just two goals since joining the club, one in the Premier League and the other recently in the FA Cup.
Many supporters have questioned the transfer, unsurprisingly so when Newcastle officials would get a nose bleed if they bid over £10M for a player. The club are notorious for low balling their bids in a half-hearted attempt to show their supporters, that they put in some sort of effort in the transfer market.
After losing both Salomon Rondon and Ayoze Perez last summer, Newcastle’s striking options were extremely limited, the need for a frontman was huge. During Mike Ashley’s torrid time as owner, the club have been no strangers to sanctioning deals in a bid to do favours for agents.
Joelinton undoubtedly showed a lot of promise during his time at Hoffenheim but he never looked the finished article. It was because of that, former manager, Rafael Benitez refused to sign off on the transfer when offered in February 2019.
Ashley is known for rarely loosening his grip on the purse strings. The club is certainly not his main interest, it is a long way down on his list of priorities and that shows in his running of the club. For the club to spend that amount of money on one player, caught everybody off guard.
Joelinton shares the same agent (Rogon Sports-management agency) as Roberto Firmino, Julian Draxler and Tiemoué Bakayoko to name a few. Perhaps the transfer of Joelinton wasn’t only about the player but to open the door to other potential transfers through the same agency.
Ashley doesn’t like to be made a fool of, Benitez challenged him every day he was manager of the club. When Benitez left, it would come as no surprise that Ashley would give the go ahead to sign a player Benitez had once refused. This was Ashley sticking two fingers up at his former manager, for whom big money signings were non-existent.
It is of course not the fault of Joelinton that the club decided to pay the whopping £40M for his services. What that did was heap immense pressure and expectation on the shoulders of a 23 year old. Had Joelinton hit the ground running, nobody would question the deal. The more Joelinton struggles, the more questions are asked.
Whether Ashley continues to stick two fingers up at Benitez and back Steve Bruce in the remaining days of this window, remains to be seen. Bruce has adopted a different approach with the owner, Benitez played politics and did so very well. Bruce has tried to develop a better relationship with Ashley, in a bid to get his approval on players.
Ashley’s refusal to spend in over a decade at the club means there will always be questions surrounding the transfer of Newcastle’s newest number nine.