What £4.5m Newcastle United transfer tells us about the club's progress this summer
Just over 11 years ago, there was a welcome arrival at St James’s Park.
Dressed immaculately, Yohan Cabaye walked through the doors at St James’s Park on June 10, 2011 for the first time after joining Newcastle United from Lille in a bargain £4.5million deal.
A handful of journalists were invited up to the otherwise-deserted stadium to speak to a smiling Cabaye.
Cabaye as a charming interviewee that day in the club’s media suite – and he would soon charm fans on the pitch. The midfielder would go on to help the club finish fifth in the Premier League – and qualify for the Europa League – in his memorable first season on Tyneside.
That deal, however, was the exception that proved the rule. Not much normally gets done in June. It’s the quietest of months at club level, and it can drag on for fans and football journalists alike.
Managers and players are off enjoying some quiet time as recruitment teams and chief executives quietly work on deals.
Fast forward to the present day, and Newcastle are again looking to sign a player from Lille. The club has returned for Sven Botman after failing to sign the 22-year-old in the January wind ow.
Newcastle, however, face competition from AC Milan, and reports in Italy have suggested that the defender favours a move to the San Siro.
United, having done extensive work on the deal, remain hopeful that they can secure Botman, who wants his future decided in time to start pre-season at a new club.
The club, which is limited in terms of what it can spend by the Premier League’s Profit and Sustainability rules, is also pursuing Stade de Reims striker Hugo Ekitike, also a January target, and supporters are waiting for a breakthrough ahead of July 1, when Eddie Howe welcomes his players back for the start of pre-season training.
Co-owner Mehrdad Ghodoussi has sensed some frustration among fans, and he replied to one supporter on Twitter with a four-word message.
Ghodoussi tweeted: “Patience is a virtue.”
Howe, we know, wants to get players through the door as quickly as possible, but this isn’t always possible, however much money is available. Some deals drag on – and on.
And, in any case, June’s always a quiet month. It’s often a frustrating one, too.
Yet the club made a positive start to the month. Matt Targett has joined on a permanent deal from Aston Villa after the club activated a £15million buy clause in last season’s loan deal.
Dan Ashworth also finally started work as sporting director after United agreed compensation with Brighton and Hove Albion, where he had been technical director.
Things are getting done, though the club is yet to announce the early part of his pre-season schedule following the cancellation of a tournament in the USA – and there has been no news, yet on a promised general sale of season tickets.
The club’s new owners pledged to communicate better with fans after buying the club from Mike Ashley last October in a £305million deal – and there should be a lot to communicate over the coming weeks.
And the time to judge the club’s summer transfer business will be at 11pm on September 1.