Rivals have forced Newcastle United to pay £22 million more than the going rate for their four buys in the transfer window, exploiting the Magpies’ new wealth and desperation to strengthen their squad to avoid relegation.
Owners all over Europe were on high alert when the transfer market reopened at the beginning of January, mindful Newcastle had become the richest football club in the world after the Saudi Arabia Public Investment Fund (PIF) became the majority shareholder.
PIF put up the bulk of the £300M takeover of Newcastle United in October, and the fund’s £270 billion fortune makes it 11 times more wealth than Manchester City‘s Sheikh Mansour.
Newcastle United Chairman Yasir Al-Rumayyan (left) with shareholder Amanda Staveley
Add to that Toon’s perilous situation in the basement of the Premier League and it was widely expected that selling clubs would extract a ‘Newcastle Tax’.
In three of the four deals Newcastle struck, that is exactly what happened, although the club will consider it a small price to pay if it delivers Premier League survival.
Overall, Newcastle had a relatively successful window, bringing in centre back Dan Burn, striker Chris Wood, right-back Kieran Trippier and midfielder, Brazilian Bruno Guimaraes, for a total of £94.5M, including add ons.
However, Toon have had to pay over the odds, with pre-sale valuations for the four players coming in put at just £72.6M, almost £22M – or 20 per cent – less than what they have committed to.
‘We weren’t going to let them take the p*** out of us.’ one European club executive, who dealt with Newcastle, told The Athletic.
Newcastle United completed the signing of Brazilian playmaker Bruno Guimaraes from Lyon
Newcastle United January Transfer Window – Actual Spend vs Market Value
£15M (inc £3M add on)
£13M (inc £2M add on)
£41.5M (inc £6.5M add on)
And that was the prevailing view, with only Tripper acquired from Atletico Madrid for less than his market value.
Sportsmail consulted recruitment analysts to obtain the value of the players Newcastle bought, before the Magpies came calling with their new money bags.
And while not an exact science, the figures give a reliable indication of what a player is worth based on a large number of factors.
Analysts evaluate the level a player is performing at, achievements, quality of opposition, their age, international and European experience, position of the selling club, benchmarking and injury record among much else.
The window got off to great start for Newcastle in terms of both quality and price. Kieran Tripper arrived from Spain for £13M compared to a valuation of £17.2M.
Eddie Howe has emerged from the January transfer window with a stronger team
However, the signing of Chris Wood from Burnley sent a message that rival clubs were happy to hear. Newcastle paid £25M for Wood, who has scored three goals this season, when he was valued at just £12.8M.
‘Once they paid that for Wood, they f***** their negotiating stance,’ concluded one agent speaking to The Athletic.
Wood’s signing, after the Magpies reportedly triggered a release clause in his contract, looked both strategic and desperate.
The team was in need of a target man to replace the injured Callum Wilson, 29, and help retain possession in a side that squanders it all too often. At the same time the move inflicted a damaging blow on their relegation rival, Burnley. But the sum was almost double what most thought he was worth.
Chris Wood was signed from Burnley for £25M, almost double his market valuation
It was a similar pattern in Toon’s other transfer business.
From a football perspective, it all makes sense, including the addition of left-back Matt Targett, 26, on loan from Aston Villa for a fee of £2M.
Burn, 29, a much-needed left-sided centre-half has come in for a total fee of £13M from Brighton, well over his valuation of £7M, but he should improve the defence and the distribution from the back.
The marquee signing of Bruno Guimaraes, 24, from Lyon cost £41.5M with add-ons, which will make him Newcastle’s most expensive ever player if they stay up.
Guimaraes had a market rate of £35.6M, but despite the inflated price tag he has the potential to give Toon what they crave, which is more control in the middle of the pitch.
Brighton centre-back Dan Burn made the move north to St James’ Park from Brighton
And data analysts are convinced that Newcastle’s side and prospects of survival are markedly enhanced.
The Twenty First Group, which advises clubs across Europe, evaluated each addition. All but one was deemed a significant upgrade on what they already had, with the exception of Wood, who sits behind both Wilson and Allan Saint-Maximin, 24, in the pecking order.
Most clubs in the bottom six may feel they can’t afford to go down and while that is not true of Newcastle, it would be a major blow.
The cost of relegation is now estimated at £60M, by Dr Dan Plumley at Sheffield Hallam University, as a result of a drop in revenue. And at the same time, he says the growth in overseas TV money means it is crucial to stay in the big league at this point.
Newcastle are certainly all in on the risk and reward strategy. Their £94.5M extravaganza in January is about the same as the entire January expenditure during 14 years under the ownership of Mike Ashley.
But there is still disappointment that two key targets to bolster the forward line escaped them.
Stade Reims forward Hugo Ekitike, 19, looked set to head north after a deal for £33M had been agreed between the clubs, but he decided to stay in France. And Jesse Lingard’s hopes of moving to St James’ Park on loan were scuppered by the financial demands of Manchester United.
Kieran Trippier was a bargain buy from Atletico Madrid at the start of the transfer window
Aston Villa left-back Matt Targett was brought in on loan to bolster the Newcastle defence