Where are they now? The BBC’s disastrous ‘Newcastle transfer rumour XI’ from 2021

When high-profile football teams come into money, the rumour mill fires itself up and grinds logic into a fine powder. Just spouts names out willy-nilly. Mbappe, Haaland, and Van Dijk in the same transfer window? Why aye, man—why not?

When the Saudi PIF bought Newcastle United from the sweaty grasp of Mike Ashley in October 2021, transfer rumours were so prevalent they appeared to be breeding and evolving like whispery little sea monkeys.

The BBC produced a speculative Newcastle United XI for the following season when the takeover happened and, well, we need to show it to you, because it is wild. Let’s delve into it and see where the fellas are in 2024.

GK: Karl Darlow

Darlow joined the Mags from Nottingham Forest in 2014, in a double deal alongside Jamaal Lascelles. The Beeb had him down to keep his place in the Toon’s starting XI, but the Beeb was wrong.

A loan to Hull City followed by a permanent move to Leeds United in 2023 found the 33-year-old goalkeeper in the Championship as Newcastle took on the Champions League.

CB: James Tarkwoski

This particular rumour seemed to have a bit of credence to it at the time, to be fair. Didn’t happen though. Sean Dyche’s favourite son moved from Burnley to Everton instead, where he is now managed by… Sean Dyche.

Gives you a warm feeling in your soul.

CB: Eric Bailly

Bit of a wild rumour, this one. The Ivorian wasn’t having the best of times at Manchester United, and ended up on loan in Marseille.

Permanent moves to Besiktas and then Villareal followed, but lengthy spells in the first eleven have been hard to come by for Bailly.

Newcastle Former Players Quiz featuring (L-R) Jonjo Shelvey, Joselu, Florian Thauvin

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CB: Federico Fernandez

The BBC reckoned that Newcastle would keep one of their existing centre-backs in 2021, despite the big-money takeover. Fabian Schar, you’d think, wouldn’t you? Nope. Okay, Lascelles? Nah. Step forward veteran Fede Fernandez.

The Argentinian is back at his boyhood club, Estudiantes, in 2024. To be fair, though, Fede was loved on Tyneside and Fabian Schar has come on leaps and bounds under Eddie Howe, so we can forgive the BBC this one.

RM: Raheem Sterling

Raheem the Dream was still a Manchester City player back in 2021, in a squad stacked with wingers and forwards, so we can just about see the logic here. Still, it’s not a move that would’ve fit with the Toon’s spending policy, with hindsight.

Sterling has been with Chelsea for the past two seasons, where his numbers haven’t quite lived up to his output at Manchester City. That’s to be expected, though, if we’re honest.

CM: Aaron Ramsey

A truly insane shout from Auntie Beeb. The Geordies had all the money in the world and were unlikely to make a move for a veteran player with an atrocious injury record, regardless of his obvious talent.

Ramsey went on loan from Juventus to Rangers, played a season at Nice in Ligue 1, then returned to his childhood club, Cardiff City, in 2023.

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CM: Donny van de Beek

Donny van de Beek is cursed. He was superb in that generational Ajax side that reached the Champions League semifinals, was sold off alongside Frenkie de Jong, Matthijs de Ligt, Hakim Ziyech etc. and then everything went to sh*t.

Couldn’t hold down a place in the Manchester United starting XI, had two unsuccessful loan spells at Everton and Eintracht Frankfurt respectively, and now… Who knows? Surely the 27-year-old Dutchmen won’t stay at United to sit on the bench.

LM: Philippe Coutinho

First of all, Coutinho at what is essentially a left-wingback position in a 3-4-3 is crazy. Secondly, there was nothing in this rumour. The Brazilian joined Aston Villa, where he failed to make an impact, and is now on loan at Al-Duhail in Qatar.

RW: Jesse Lingard

Credit where it’s due—this transfer seemed relatively plausible at the time. Lingard needed a club and fanbase who would love him, and the Toon Army would, no doubt, have done just that.

As it turned out, J-Lingz went to Nottingham Forest instead, made 20 appearances, was released at the end of his contract, then joined FC Seoul in South Korea, where he remains in 2024.

Newcastle United striker Alan Shearer celebrates scoring against Leeds United, St. James' Park, January 1997.

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LW: Anthony Martial

Another out-of-favour Manchester United player being linked with the Magpies, here. A bit offensive at this point. Martial ended up going out on loan to Sevilla for a season, in which he only played 12 games and scored one goal.

He found himself back in Manchester last season but struggled for game time.

The Frenchman is now available on a free transfer. Watch this space…

ST: Mauro Icardi

Never has a man been more destined for the Turkish Superlig than Mauro Icardi, and that is exactly what has come to pass. The Argentinian drama magnet has been fairly prolific for Galatasaray since joining in 2022, and it’s no shock.

Dropping Icardi in the Superlig is like taking a starved and dried-out plant from a polluted, cement-covered city, and letting it thrive in the rich, fertile soils of the countryside.

Mauro loves chaos, causes chaos, needs chaos, thrives in chaos. Long may it continue.