Rating all 12 of Newcastle’s £10m+ signings from Shearer to Murphy
On August 31, 2005, Newcastle United broke their transfer record to sign Michael Owen from Real Madrid for £16million. They haven’t broken it again since.
It was only the second time they had spent an eight-figure sum in their history, and remarkably they have only done so on 10 occasions since.
Is the financial conservatism evidence that Mike Ashley needs to loosen the purse strings? Or damning proof that talent is better nurtured from within?
1995: Alan Shearer (£15m)
A year after winning the Premier League with Blackburn, Alan Shearer joined his boyhood club for £15million, breaking the world transfer record.
The striker would spend 10 years at the club, becoming the Premier League’s all-time record goalscorer and a hero on Tyneside.
Shearer’s most prolific campaign was his first, when he scored 25 goals in 31 league appearances, but he would surpass the 20-goal mark on three further occasions: in 1999-00, 2001-02 and 2003-04.
It went well, in other words, and Shearer was given the Freedom of the City of Newcastle in December 2000.
He is now a reasonably well-respected BBC pundit.
2005: Michael Owen (£16m)
It would take a decade for Newcastle to eclipse the fee they paid for Shearer, but when they did it was for another iconic England striker.
Then 25, Michael Owen had just spent a relatively successful year at Real Madrid, but his time in the North East would be blighted by injury.
Over his first two seasons at Newcastle, the striker made just 14 appearances, partly due to an ACL injury picked up at the 2006 World Cup.
And despite a higher appearance tally and goal tally in Owen’s third and fourth seasons, Newcastle were relegated in May 2009.
After picking up wages of £110,000 for four years, Owen left for Man United on a free transfer, and is now a uniformly disliked pundit.
2006: Obafemi Martins (£10m)
Inter Milan’s Nigerian forward Obafemi Martins was signed as a replacement of sorts for the injured Owen, just a year after his high-profile arrival.
Newcastle even sought compensation from the FA for the Martins transfer, believing they had been forced to act due to Owen’s injury on international duty.
Although hardly a failure on Tyneside, Martins started slowly and ultimately failed to replace either Owen or the retired Alan Shearer, whose iconic No.9 shirt he had taken.
In his three Premier League seasons at Newcastle, Martins scored 11, nine and eight goals.
He was sold to Wolfsburg at a £1 million loss after Newcastle’s relegation in 2009.
At 33, Martins now plays for Shanghai Shenhua in the Chinese Super League, boasting a decent scoring record of a goal every two games.
2008: Fabricio Coloccini (£10m)
Signed from Deportivo at the beginning of Newcastle’s bonkers 2008-09 season (the one with Kevin Keegan, Joe Kinnear, Joey Barton, Owen playing in midfield, Shearer as caretaker and the club’s eventual relegation), Argentine defender Fabricio Coloccini made a few high-profile errors in his debut season but eventually endeared himself to fans.
After sticking out the 2009-10 campaign in the Championship, Coloccini enjoyed six consecutive seasons in the Premier League, including a fifth-place finish in 2011-12, his first season as club captain.
The defender almost left the club in January 2013 but was convinced to stay by manager Alan Pardew.
He agreed to the termination of his contract in July 2016 after another relegation, and currently plays for San Lorenzo in Argentina at the age of 36.
2015: Georginio Wijnaldum (£14.5m), Aleksandar Mitrovic (£13m), Florian Thauvin (£13m)
Not to get all Richard Keys on you, but Mike Ashley’s Newcastle have occasionally spent money on transfers, as they did at the start of the 2015-16 season.
Had they not been managed by Steve McLaren, all three of Georginio Wijnaldum, Aleksandar Mitrovic and Florian Thauvin might have proved decent signings.
As it happened, only Wijnaldum performed well in a disastrous campaign that couldn’t quite be saved by Rafa Benitez.
Wijnaldum was quickly snapped up by Liverpool; Mitrovic contrived to score fewer goals in the Championship than he had in the Premier League but moved to Fulham this summer for upward of £20million.
Thauvin, anonymous in 2015-16, was loaned and later transferred to Marseille. He recently won the World Cup.
January 2016: Jonjo Shelvey (£12m), Andros Townsend (£12.5m)
Signed in the January transfer window of the 2015-16 season, Jonjo Shelvey and Andros Townsend took the club’s spending for the season up to more than £80million.
Both impressed at points during the second half of the season, and Shelvey even served as captain. Neither, however, could prevent the club’s relegation.
Shelvey stayed with the club for the 2016-17 Championship season and remains a first-team player, while Townsend was sold to Crystal Palace for £13million after just over five months at St James’.
Summer 2016: Matt Ritchie (£12m), Dwight Gayle (£10m)
The spending of 2016 continued into the summer, as the club plotted a quick return to the Premier League.
Their tools for doing so? Matt Ritchie of Bournemouth and Dwight Gayle of Crystal Palace.
Both performed well in the Championship, with Gayle notching 23 goals. But it was Ritchie who better adjusted to life back in the Premier League, and Gayle was loaned back to the second tier with West Brom this summer.
2017: Jacob Murphy (£12m)
Given Newcastle’s stubborn resistance to spending more than £16million on a footballer, it seemed strange that they spent three quarters of a Michael Owen on an untested future prospect.
Murphy scored nine goals for Norwich in the 2016-17 Championship season, enough to convince Rafa Benitez of his talents.
The England U21 winger made 13 league starts in his first season for Newcastle, and has featured in two out of three matches in the current campaign.