The ‘risky’ Newcastle United transfer Dan Ashworth & PIF ‘fought’ to secure
Newcastle United completed just one major signing during the January transfer window as Anthony Gordon arrived from Everton in a deal worth £40million plus add-ons.
The 21-year-old wouldn’t take up a place in Newcastle’s squad due to his age but has had a lot of faith put in him with a long-term contract at St James's Park. After being presented to the St James’s Park crowd ahead of Tuesday night’s Carabao Cup semi-final win against Southampton, Gordon made his Magpies debut off the bench during Saturday’s 1-1 draw at home to West Ham United in the Premier League.
"Coming to St James’s Park as a visiting team, it’s the best atmosphere in England that I’ve experienced,” Gordon said when reflecting on his previous visits while at Everton.
"I always looked forward to the games as that’s what football is all about. Football is nothing without atmosphere. It was always difficult and I don’t have the best of records at St James’s – hopefully that changes now!”
Despite being on Tyneside a little over a week, Gordon has already been made to feel welcome both at St James’s Park and away from it. After officially signing for Newcastle in January, Gordon went shopping at the Metro Centre in Gateshead.
As he was waiting for a taxi, one fan offered him and his girlfriend (Annie Keating) a lift back to the city.
"I was a bit unsure at first but then I agreed,” Gordon told UNITED. “The family took me and my girlfriend back, telling me how much they love the club, and it was a good sign of how pleasant they are.
"I’ve only been hearing good things about Newcastle. It made me feel more at ease. I’ve been in Liverpool my whole life and never really been to Newcastle within the city.
"Me and my girlfriend weren’t sure what to expect at first so when we arrived and got to meet the people, it took those nerves away.”
Gordon’s time at Everton met an unsavoury end as he was confronted by angry supporters in his car following a defeat against Southampton last month. A complete contrast to his first week in the North East.
“Everyone at the club has been so welcoming,” Gordon added. “I probably didn’t expect it to be so upbeat and everybody being so pleasant towards me, welcoming me with open arms, which is really good coming here.
"Even in the city, the people have really surprised me so I want to thank them for that because coming to a new place that I’ve never been to before has been a massive part of me being happy already.
"I’ve had lots of messages, many people contacting me via social media and it’s been a really good time. I’m so happy to be here and now everything is done, I can just focus on my football and the club.
"The past week or so, I’ve been constantly daydreaming of scoring and celebrating with the fans going wild. Hopefully those visions come true, but I’m so happy to be here.
"I feel really settled and I want to push on and see how far I can go.”
Newcastle attempted to sign Gordon in the summer but saw a £35million bid knocked back by Everton, who were holding out for £60million. Premier League rivals Chelsea flirted with the idea of signing the young winger but ultimately walked away, allowing The Magpies to swoop in for a January deal.
With Newcastle’s interest reignited, Gordon handed in a transfer request at Everton in a bid to speed up the process. After almost 11 years at Goodison Park, the 21-year-old was adamant he wanted to leave the struggling Premier League side.
United’s transfer policy was clear ahead of the January window with both head coach Eddie Howe and sporting director Dan Ashworth stressing the need to sign ‘emerging talent’ and ‘bring the average age of the squad down’.
“We have to look at some emerging talent, enhancing our academy and getting the players through from a different route,” Ashworth said back in October.
“But also, FFP is quite complicated in the fact that it’s over the duration of a player’s contract. If you sell a player, the money hits the account at a different time than when you buy a player. It is making sure that the timing is right.”
As a result, Newcastle made just three signings in January with 18-year-old Garang Kuol arriving for a nominal fee from Central Coast Mariners and Harrison Ashby, 21, joining from West Ham for £3million in addition to Gordon’s big money move.
But unlike the majority of the other transfers conducted since PIF’s takeover of Newcastle in October 2021, Gordon’s £40million transfer fee to Everton was paid in one lump sum, such was the club’s willingness to get the deal over the line.
But even Gordon himself admitted the club was taking a ‘big risk’ given his relative lack of experience at the top level.
“Dan [Ashworth], the manager and the owners have fought hard to get me here which shows they trust me to help the club move forward,” Gordon continued.
“I’m at a young age so it is a big risk for them but I could not be more thankful and happy they’ve done that. I really think I can help the club and I’m sure they can help me a lot in the upcoming years.”
And after impressing during his brief debut against West Ham, Gordon will be hoping to kick-on at Bournemouth this Saturday (5:30pm kick-off) as he looks to earn a place in Howe’s starting line-up.