Why Facundo Ferreyra’s Newcastle mystery is similar to Nacho Gonzalez fiasco

CLOSE? ... Facundo Ferreyra, left.
CLOSE? ... Facundo Ferreyra, left.

IT would take something special to beat Ignacio ‘Nacho’ Gonzalez as Newcastle United’s worst-ever loan signing in the Premier League era.

But fair play to Facundo ‘Chucky’ Ferreyra, he’s giving it a good go.

Alan Pardew, when he was in charge of Newcastle, spoke around the issue, told the Gazette back in November that Ferreyra needed ‘building up’.

The similarities between the two players is striking.

Both were left-field loan signings.

Both hail from South America.

Both rarely – if ever – featured for the first team.

Both have dodgy nicknames.

Hopefully, that’s where the similarities end.

Let’s remind ourselves of Gonzalez. His surprise arrival on a similar year-long loan in 2008 came after then director of football Dennis Wise watched him on YouTube.

Manager Kevin Keegan disapproved. Strongly. So much so that he quit, took the club to an industrial tribunal and eventually won a £2m payout as it was revealed Gonzalez had been signed ‘as a favour’ to two South American agents – at a cost of almost £1m in wages.

There’s nothing to suggest a similar situation has happened here with Ferreyra, but the player’s time at Newcastle does raise plenty questions.

While Graham Carr was scouting continental Europe for young talent, how come a former Argentine Under-20 international suddenly arrived at the club via Ukraine?

Who had recommended him? Had he been watched by Carr or any of United’s scouts?

And how much is this deal costing Newcastle?

Ask the question of why he hasn’t appeared yet for Newcastle’s first team since joining on a year-long loan from Shaktar Donetsk in the summer and you get stock responses.

Alan Pardew, when he was in charge of Newcastle, spoke around the issue, telling the Gazette back in November that Ferreyra needed ‘building up’.

I presume they’re still building.

Back in January, new boss John Carver claimed Ferreyra had a back injury and was receiving treatment, while in his comments this week, the young striker admitted he was struggling with the physical side of English football, despite having not played anything more demanding than three Under-21s matches.

I’d be surprised if he adds to that tally between now and the end of the season.

Forget fitness issues, the suspicion remains that he’s just not good enough. Rumours of players being unimpressed with him on the training ground have circulated since his arrival.

Two years ago Ferreyra finished as joint top scorer in Argentina, alongside Nacho Scocco - and we know how well he fared in his spell at Sunderland.

Ferreyra broke his silence on his Newcastle career this week, claiming that he hadn’t given up hope of extending his stay on Tyneside to next season.

It’s safe to say he’s being a tad optimistic.

But will he be ranked as a worse signing than Gonzalez? The Uruguayan, after all, was a player whose arrival sparked the end of Keegan’s second spell at St James’s Park, was the focal part of an industrial tribunal which exposed the Newcastle board as lying to fans and media, and which arguably signalled the change in attitude of Mike Ashley towards how he runs the club.

In that sense, “Chucky” doesn’t even come close.

Twitter: @rossgregory9