Ranking the 29 strikers signed by Newcastle United under Mike Ashley
Mike Ashley has got plenty wrong during his time in charge of Newcastle United, but his legacy can be quite neatly summed up by the list of strikers the club has signed on his watch.
For a club that made headlines as Entertainers in the mid-nineties, having attacking talents such as Alan Shearer, David Ginola, and Les Ferdinand, recent times have seen rather less able forwards take on the goalscoring burden.
While West Ham United have overspent on forwards under David Gold and David Sullivan, it can be argued that Ashley has underspent in charge of Newcastle, with just 24 strikers coming through the St James’ Park doors since 2007.
Here, we rank them all from worst to best.
Before we start, wingers and attacking midfielders aren’t included, Shola Ameobi and Andy Carroll get reprieves by being rare products of the youth academy, while Michael Owen, Mark Viduka and Obafemi Martins all joined prior to Ashley’s takeover.
29. Nile Ranger
Nile Ranger scored two league goals for Newcastle and, spoiler, some players on this list did not even make an appearance for the club.
However, during his time on Tyneside Ranger got more points on his driving licence than he did goals, spent more time in prison than he did on the pitch, and most of his shots came from imitation firearms.
=27. Fabio Zamblera & Jóan Símun Edmundsson
Zamblera and Edmundsson both failed to make a senior appearance for Newcastle, but they don’t have a Legal history section on their Wikipedia page that is longer than their Club career section and so are above Nile Ranger on that basis alone.
26. Facundo Ferreyra
Facundo Ferreyra, nicknamed Chucky, moved on loan to St James’ Park in 2014 and – despite an impressive career at Shakhtar Donetsk – failed to make an appearance beyond the reserve side.
25. Wesley Ngo Baheng
Ngo Baheng also failed to make it beyond the second string at Newcastle, but his exploits in scoring in every division for my Gateshead side on Football Manager 2010, resulting in me featuring in a documentary about the game, sees him placed here.
24 Alan Smith
It’s probably unfair to include Alan Smith in this list since by the time he joined Newcastle he had been converted into the new new Roy Keane (Liam Miller, of course, being the new Roy Keane), but seeing as though Smith once led the line in a Champions League semi-final then you would expect him to score at least one goal. He did not.
23. Luuk de Jong
Why have one disappointing De Jong brother when you can both? Newcastle did just that in 2014 when Luuk arrived on loan from Borussia Mönchengladbach, where he scored six goals in two years. At Newcastle he needed just 12 games to score six fewer goals.
22. Shefki Kuqi
In 2011, Newcastle United had one of the most exciting English striking prospects in the country in the sizeable form of Andy Carroll – they then sold him to Liverpool for £35million. With that money burning a hole in their pocket, Newcastle signed 34-year-old Shefki Kuqi on a free transfer.
21. Seydou Doumbia
Basically the same as Facundo Ferreyra, but he actually made an appearance or two and wasn’t just fleeing a potential war in Ukraine. They both scored the same number of goals, though.
20. Islam Slimani
Huh, it turns out we didn’t just hallucinate that move. Four games and no goals, which is four more games than we can remember the Algerian playing in a Newcastle shirt. Still on the books of Leicester City, for whom he scored a winning goal in the Champions League, and scored on his Monaco debut after joining on loan. Don’t try to think too hard about that sentence.
19. Emmanuel Rivière
For most clubs, there would not be nine strikers worse than Emmanuel Rivière. Newcastle are not like most clubs.
Rivière actually managed to score one goal for the club, though – in the final month of the season in a 2-1 defeat to already-relegated Queens Park Rangers. Even then he seemed to be doing his best to miss – something he had plenty of practice in while on Tyneside.
— Dan Ritchie (@dannyboyritchie) August 25, 2017
18. Ivan Toney
Ivan Toney made a grand total of two league appearances for Newcastle and failed to find the back of the net. Somehow he is still better than at least 10 players on this list.
17. Yoshinori Muto
Muto only scored once in his debut season, but Alexis Sanchez also scored in that game so it’s not exactly symbolic of Premier League football in 2018. He’s extremely handsome, though, so there is that.
16. Marlon Harewood
Harewood joined Newcastle on loan from Aston Villa when the Magpies won promotion back to the Premier League in the 2009-10 season. He scored five goals, and Newcastle were unbeaten in each of those games.
Xisco actually scored on his Newcastle debut, and once played a sublime pass to Andy Carroll to complete a hat-trick against Aston Villa. And thus ends his YouTube highlight real from a time when YouTube was Newcastle’s chief scout.
Xisco, signed as part of an elaborate Ponzi scheme, turned out to be a better punchline than he was a striker.
Ah, that club record of £40m really hasn’t helped poor Joelinton. He certainly looked like he was off to a promising start with his goal in the win over Spurs. It took him another five months to score his second in the FA Cup before waiting another six months to bag his second in the Premier League. Now Callum Wilson has signed,
he’s either got a cracking partner up top or he’s going to be dropped.
13. Yoan Gouffran
Perhaps Newcastle thought they were signing Yoann Gourcuff when they bought Gouffran for the princely sum of £500k in January 2013.
A lack of investment in other areas saw him pushed out wide, and Alan Pardew’s masterstroke of playing him in central midfield worked out as so many of Alan Pardew’s masterstrokes do, but he always worked hard and chipped in with important goals when played centrally.
Sometimes at Christmas or just before your birthday your gran or your aunt will ask your mum what you like, then come the big day they will have bought you something vaguely similar but noticeably cheaper. Rafa Benítez wanted a striker and he got Joselu.
Still, he did what you would expect a £5million striker to do and Rafa Benítez seemed to trust him for a bit – and who am I to doubt a man that won Djimi Traore a Champions League medal?
11. Leon Best
Just 10 different players have scored a Premier League hat-trick for Newcastle, and in among Les Ferdinand, Peter Beardsley and Alan Shearer sits Leon Best.
His treble against West Ham represents 33.33% of his total number of Newcastle league goals, and he represents 50% of the players on this list to have scored a Premier League hat-trick for Newcastle.
10. Daryl Murphy
Sometimes on Football Manager you just sign an experienced player as back-up with no intention of ever playing them, and that seemed to be what Newcastle did with Daryl Murphy.
However, the Championship veteran scored five important goals as the club made an immediate return to the Premier League before departing to Nottingham Forest – not once complaining about the role he was brought in to fulfil.
9. Callum Wilson
Yep, ninth. All he’s done is put a shirt on and look delighted not to have signed for Aston Villa and he’s made it into the top 10. His record in the Premier League alone probably warrants it and if he can replicate his form for Bournemouth, he’ll easily make it to the top spot.
8. Aleksandar Mitrović
Faustino Asprilla, Temuri Ketsbaia, Aleksandar Mitrović. Newcastle supporters love a striker that plays on the edge, and Mitrović plays so close to the edge that he’s often in danger of falling off.
He has scored 14 league goals for the club, and missed almost as many matches through suspension. As ill-disciplined as he may be, he was a useful asset when he did play.
7. Peter Løvenkrands
He came on a free from Germany and scored three times as Newcastle unsuccessfully tried to stave off relegation in 2009 before leaving the club in the summer.
However, his love affair with the club wasn’t over and he returned to score another 19 league goals as they returned to the top flight and established themselves in the division. He can still be found cheering on the Magpies on social media, presumably in his Danish-Glaswegian accent.
6. Loïc Rémy
Loïc Rémy is somewhat of an anomaly on this list – a loan signing that actually played for the first team. Turning down the club in favour of joining QPR in January 2013, he eventually ended up on Tyneside in August that same year when all was forgiven as he scored 14 Premier League goals in 26 matches.
The only issue was Newcastle forgot to agree a future fee for Rémy and he stayed in west London with Chelsea after his loan at St James’ Park expired.
5. Dwight Gayle
After being relegated to the second tier in 2016, Newcastle needed to reinvest some of the £90million raised in player sales. Step forward £10m Dwight Gayle.
Gayle, like Michael Chopra or Jordan Rhodes, is a player too good for the Championship but not quite good enough for the Premier League – but his time in the second tier saw him score 23 goals, making him the first Newcastle player since Alan Shearer to break the 20-goal mark in a season.
4. Salomon Rondon
Rondon produced one solid season as a loanee. A grand total of 33 games. And yet a top-four spot on this list feels like the bare minimum.
The Venezuelan arrived on a temporary deal after Mitrovic was sold to Fulham and scored 12 goals in those games. It was enough to earn him a permanent deal to play under Rafa Benitez for years to come. The only problem for Newcastle was that, by the time the deal was sealed, Benitez had moved to Dalian Yifang in the Chinese Super League.
3. Ayoze Pérez
Ayoze Pérez was, allegedly, being tracked by both Real Madrid and Barcelona before Newcastle swooped in to sign him from Tenerife in 2014.
While he hasn’t shown the ability to usurp Lionel Messi, and indeed took his sweet time to even outshine Dwight Gayle, he showed glimpses of class and scored some impressive and important goals while not really being an out-and-out centre-forward. Obviously he was sold at the first sign of becoming a real asset to the club
2. Papiss Cissé
When Papiss Cissé arrived from Freiburg in 2011 he was a footballing Midas, with everything he touched turning into goal(d) and Stephen Hawking still trying to figure out the physics of Cissé’s goal against Chelsea.
Towards the end of his time at St James’ Park he was more like Rufus Smalls from Mike Bassett: England Manager, being given penalties to try and give him a bit of confidence – but those few months alongside Hatem Ben Arfa and Demba Ba saw some of the best attacking play at Newcastle since Kevin Keegan was in charge.
1. Demba Ba
He came here to drink strawberry sauce and score goals, and he’s just finished his strawberry sauce.
Demba Ba joined Newcastle on a free transfer from West Ham thanks to a lapse-in-judgement-at-best relegation release clause and went on to score 29 Premier League goals for the club before departing to Chelsea thanks to a lapse-in-judgement-at-best £7million release clause.
His time at Newcastle included a hat-trick against Stoke City, who decided against signing Ba due to his “ticking time bomb” knee.
By Jonny Sharples