Former Aston Villa forward Gabby Agbonlahor defends 'true' claims about Newcastle United
Gabriel Agbonlahor’s suggestion that Newcastle United would struggle to attract players in January because they ‘don't want to live in Newcastle’ has caused quite the stir this week.
Now the former Aston Villa striker has defended his comments after they sparked a vocal response from many proud Geordies, former Newcastle players as well as current head coach Eddie Howe.
Magpies legend Rob Lee was quick to the city’s defence as he tweeted: “I am a born and bred Londoner but spent 10 years living in the north east and loved it and the people!”
Agbonlahor believes players ‘want to be close to London’ and Newcastle’s geographical location in England means they will have to pay more money than their more southerly Premier League counterparts.
When given an opportunity to further explain his comments on talkSport, he said: "If I was 25 now and I had a choice, I would choose Brentford over Newcastle.
"I'd rather be closer to London, for me to move all the way up north there, you're going to have to pay a lot more money.
"In the January transfer window, they're going to have that problem, attracting players with their league position and attracting players to go there, they're going to have to pay more.
"Let's be honest, even Brentford, Watford, teams that are around Newcastle [in the league] at the moment, players aren't going to go to Watford for the same money that they'll go to Newcastle for.
"They're going to choose Watford before Newcastle. I've had 10, 15 ex-players who have said ‘you're spot on Gabby’. You say it how it is and it's the truth and let's be honest, it's the truth.
"I'm sure Newcastle is an amazing city to live in and an amazing place but some players are going to want the lifestyle.
"Not every player, some aren't bothered by that, but some are going to want the lifestyle of London and want to be closer to London. I stand by my words 100-per-cent.”
The Birmingham born ex-professional went on to assess Newcastle’s chances of staying in the Premier League following a 14 game winless start to the season.
“If they can spend, and wisely and bring in top players, then they’ve got a chance,” he added. “If they can keep [the gap] to four, five, six points and bring in some talented players [in January] then there is no reason why they can’t [stay up].”
As Howe alluded to in response to Agbonlahor’s initial comments, Newcastle’s issue doesn’t lie in their geographical location but rather their location at the foot of the Premier League table.
The Telegraph reported that Premier League clubs could also adopt an ‘anyone but Newcastle’ transfer policy in the January window following their Saudi-led takeover deal which could thwart Howe’s transfer plans.
Attracting the quality and quantity of players Newcastle need to get themselves out of relegation trouble during the notoriously tricky January window is a tall order regardless of how much money the club have.
But the city itself has nothing to do with it.