Mon 11 Mar 2024, 12:59 · Mark Davis

The Mike Ashley Era: Every Newcastle United Signing Ranked (Part 3)

The Mike Ashley Era: Every Newcastle United Signing Ranked (Part 3)
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It’s been a wild ride, but we’ve finally reached the ‘good’ end of this list… y’know, the ones that weren’t a complete waste of money (even if some of them left on slightly bad terms (ahem #32 and #2, we’re looking at you)…

But as they say, it’s better to have loved and lost… so there are some key departures in this final chapter that still sting a bit. But luckily, there are just as many that are still here now, and are repairing the 15 years of damage that Mike Ashley put this incredible club through.

If your heart can take it, here is the top 40…


40 - Mike Williamson

Joined: 2010 (1M)

Left: 2016 (250K - Wolves)

League Apps (Goals): 150 (1)

Another unglamorous English bruiser… another well-earned nickname. “Iron Mike” was never going to top this list, but he did form a reliable partnership with Captain Colo at the heart of the Newcastle defence during that push for Champions league football in 2012. It seems his affinity for the North East has endured, as he did a stellar job for four years as Gateshead boss after retiring as a player.

39 - Federico Fernandez

Joined: 2018 (6M)

Left: 2022 (Undisclosed - Elche)

League Apps (Goals): 82 (2)

Whenever Fernandez played, he looked composed, strong, and a goal-threat at the other end. Plus, he seemed like such a likeable guy off the field. A shame we didn’t see more of him, in a quite frankly depressing era of the club.

38 - Christian Atsu

Joined: 2016 (Loan >>> 6.2M)

Left: 2021 (Released)

League Apps (Goals): 107 (8)

May he Rest In Peace. Atsu showed glimpses of the quality that made him a sought-after youngster at Chelsea, with a small collection of bangers in the Championship, and a delightfully flighted ball for Joelinton to open his account during his ill-fated spell as a number 9. Perhaps he fell into the category of “too good for the championship… not quite consistent enough for the Premier League” but we have some great memories of him, and he’s a big loss to the Newcastle United family.


37 - Karl Darlow

Joined: 2014 (3M)

Left: 2023 (400K - Leeds)

League Apps (Goals): 86 (0)

It took Darlow a while to stake his claim for the role of number one; after some unconvincing displays in the Premier League. But he took his chance in the Championship with both hands; even saving two penalty kicks in a game with the worst refereeing display I’ve ever witnessed. Unfortunately, Rafa never seemed to fully trust him as his number 1; first installing Sels and then Dubravka when we were back in the top flight. But he became a reliable deputy, similar to what Steve Harper had been years before him; and it’s a shame to see him left in a similar role now at Leeds. The lad deserves first-team football; especially in the Championship.

36 - Jacob Murphy

Joined: 2017 (12M)

Left: N/A (Still Under Contract)

League Apps (Goals): 138 (9)*

Thinking objectively - and taking recency bias out of the equation… it took Jacob Murphy the best part of three years to offer any glimpses of why he was such a sought-after hotshot in the Championship with Norwich. On meme-ability and on-pitch hilarity, he’s in the Top 1-ish… sadly, we have to judge him on more than just the 6-1 demolition of spurs and the watch-tapping antics right in front of Erik Ten Hag. Although obviously, we were absolutely living for every second of both. Keep on being an absolute sh*thouse, Jacob…

35 - Moussa Sissoko

Joined: 2013 (2.1M)

Left: 2016 (30M - Spurs)

League Apps (Goals): 118 (11)

Where do we start on this one eh? On one hand, we signed him for peanuts and sold him on for over ten times that amount. He made an instant impact in steadying the ship in a rocky campaign, and of course… laid on the winner in our only win at Old Trafford in the Premier League. But to be honest? From a player that went on to collect over 70 caps for France, we deserved much, much more.


34 - Georginio Wijnaldum

Joined: 2015 (14.5M)

Left: 2016 (25M - Liverpool)

League Apps (Goals): 38 (11)

These relegation turncoats do seem to be coming in twos don’t they? *ahem, Bassong and Beye - looking at you. And if we were to be judging this list on talent and silverware alone, Wijnaldum would easily be topping this list (well, in terms of Champions Leagues anyway) - and he enjoyed some memorable moments in a toon shirt, notably a four-goal haul against Norwich and a MOTM-winning performance against Liverpool. But these moments all came at Saint James’ Park; and on the road, he became a shadow of himself.

33 - Rob Elliot

Joined: 2011 (300K)

Left: 2020 (Released)

League Apps (Goals): 55 (0)

Snatched from a floundering League One Charlton side, goalkeeper Rob Elliot has no right being so high in this list. But he is, and that is a credit to him. Much more fashionable names have come and failed at Saint James’ Park, but Rob Elliot was always solid when relied upon; racking up over 50 Premier League appearances.

32 - Andros Townsend

Joined: 2016 (12M)

Left: 2016 (13M - Crystal Palace)

League Apps (Goals): 13 (4)

No matter which way you look at it, this transfer wasn’t half bad. We got a player with a point to prove, who almost single-handedly gave us a fighting chance of staying in the division when all hope was lost… and six months later, we made a profit on him. Sure, we got relegated, but it’s the little wins in life isn’t it? And Premier League wins were far too hard to come by that season…


31 - Aleksandar Mitrovic

Joined: 2015 (13M)

Left: 2018 (22M - Fulham)

League Apps (Goals): 65 (14)

The history books don’t seem to remember Mitro’s time at Newcastle too fondly, but there were some redeeming factors. Nine goals in his debut Premier League campaign in a relegated side (and at just 21 years of age) is good going for any player; and one of those ended the horrible rot against the mackems. But he did have his wild side; and as wrong’uns in this list like Ivan Toney have proved… Rafa doesn’t have time for a ‘wild side’. But we did make a profit on him, and he did give us some laughs… even if he did save his best Prem football for the white shirt of Fulham.

30 - Isaac Hayden

Joined: 2016 (2.5M)

Left: N/A (Still Under Contract)

League Apps (Goals): 151 (6)

We always love a workhorse in British football; and Isaac Hayden embodies that style. His football was solid, simple, unglamorous; a hallmark of the Benitez era; and it got the job done. He was never going to be a regular starter when the Saudis started flashing the cash, and injuries didn’t help his case. But he was an important cog in the Rafa machine that helped us adapt to life back in the Prem with ease.

29 - Daryl Murphy

Joined: 2016 (3.5M)

Left: 2017 (2M)

League Apps (Goals): 15 (5)

Newcastle fans everywhere salute the work that Daryl Murphy did in his brief stay on Tyneside. Brought in by Rafa to offer something different next to Championship goal machine Dwight Gayle, he duly obliged; with five goals in 15 matches. A precursor to the similar move for Chris Wood; he came in, did a job, and moved on.

28 - Jetro Willems

Joined: 2019 (Loan)

Left: 2020 (Loan Expired)

League Apps (Goals): 19 (2)

They say ‘never fall in love with a loan player’ - and in Jetro Willems’ case; especially not one with severe injury problems. But he truly lit up the left side of a very stale Steve Bruce side; scoring two absolute worldies against top sides City and Liverpool, before an ACL issue cut his enjoyable time on Tyneside short.

27 - Leon Best

1 best

Joined: 2010 (1.5M)

Left: 2012 (3M - Blackburn Rovers)

League Apps (Goals): 42 (10)

There were several ‘pinch-me’ moments in Newcastle’s first season back in the top flight in the 10-11 season. There was the Halloween massacre of Sunderland… the Andy Carroll winner at The Emirates… the £35 million sale of said Andy Carroll… and the 6-0 thrashing of the bitter Brummies. But Leon Best also served up his own piece of niche Newcastle history; registering a hat-trick in Carroll’s absence to blow away West Ham. In fact, his goals per starts ratio in the Premier League was impressive; and it was only the arrival of a certain duo of Dembas that forced him to search for first-team football elsewhere. An unlikely inclusion inside the top 30.

26 - Jonjo Shelvey

Joined: 2016 (12M)

Left: 2023 (Undisclosed - Nottingham Forest)

League Apps (Goals): 186 (16)

Capable of the magnificent and the maddening… the beautiful and the beastly… we saw it all from Jonjo Shelvey in his seven years on Tyneside. Often seen as the only player capable of making ‘that Hollywood pass’ against stubborn defences, but more often guilty of being the ‘lazy player who won’t track back’ - Shelvey was in many ways the ideal foil and contrast to his midfield partner Isaac Hayden. Overall, we perhaps wanted more from him, but it was still a shame to see him depart in the infancy of the Saudi regime.

25 - Ryan Taylor

Joined: 2009 (Part-exchange)

Left: 2015 (Released)

League Apps (Goals): 92 (6)

“Ryan Taylor - Over The Wall!” - That goal alone would be enough to deserve a place in the upper echelons of this list. But Ryan Taylor’s versatility, work rate and ability to hit a bolt out of the blue were what really endeared him to the Geordie faithful. It’s just a shame injuries curtailed his time with us… that, and getting let go over the phone… on the same phone call as Jonas…

24 - Jonas Gutierrez

Joined: 2008 (Undisclosed)

Left: 2015 (Released)

League Apps (Goals): 187 (11)

Speaking of which… there have been few more emotional stints for Newcastle in the Premier League than with one Jonas Gutierrez. He battled relegation… promotion… and then cancer… to then return on the final day of the 14-15 season to inspire our survival. It’s hard to keep sentiment out of the equation, but, with my stupid objective hat on, I must concede that before the cancer heartbreak struck, we didn’t see as much end product as we would have liked from the fan favourite… but we couldn’t not include him in the top 25, could we?

23 - Jose Enrique

Joined: 2007 (6.3M)

Left: 2011 (6M - Liverpool)

League Apps (Goals): 119 (1)

He took his time to get settled; as a surviving relic from the ill-fated Allardyce era, but once he got going, boy did he deliver. Absolutely instrumental in our promotion season, and continuing those lofty standards into the Premier League, it was only a matter of time until one of the Big Boys came along and snapped him up. And come they did, in the form of Liverpool. Although, he might want to forget having to don the goalkeeper gloves upon his return to Saint James’.

22 - Peter Lovenkrands

1 lovenkrands

Joined: 2009 (Free)

Left: 2012 (Released)

League Apps (Goals): 75 (22)

Another player caught in the emotional whirlwind that is Newcastle United; free signings don’t come much better than Peter Lovenkrands. Forming a great attacking partnership with the likes of Shola Ameobi and Andy Carroll in the championship, Peter’s goals also helped keep us in the Premier League, especially when Carroll was sold on midway through the season. He even played on for the club - and scored - in light of the news that his father had passed; a true servant of the club.

21 - Jamaal Lascelles

Joined: 2014 (4M)

Left: N/A (Still Under Contract)

League Apps (Goals): 217 (13)*

Recency bias may well have worked in Jamaal’s favour here, because if you’d spoken to any Toon fan more than a year ago, they would have wanted shot of Lascelles in the Newcastle side; let alone the captaincy. Perhaps the biggest victim to Rafa’s departure, Lascelles went from being an England international hopeful, to a Harry Maguire-esque liability under the “guidance” of Steve Bruce. But his recent resurgence, and his ability to remain a great source of leadership on - and off - the pitch, means we have take the good with the bad in terms of assessing our long-standing captain.

20 - Miguel Almiron

Joined: 2019 (21M)

Left: N/A (Still Under Contract)

League Apps (Goals): 170 (23)*

It’s been quite the journey for Miguel Almiron. Brought in as a record signing… forming a decent triumvirate with Messrs Perez and Rondon as part of ‘The Three Amigos’… suffering a season-ending injury… coming back and waiting almost a full calendar year to score his first goal… becoming the butt of the joke from a drunken Jack Grealish… turning into prime Arjen Robben for four months… missing a sitter in the Champions League… and all without learning a word of English. The most frustrating, one-footed, predictable headless chicken around…

But he’s our headless chicken… and without those goals last season, we would have never had Champions League football, including that famous 4-1 night against PSG.

And who started off that 4-1 goal fest? Miggy Almiron, of course. And that makes the £20 million fee and all those blind runs down the flank worth it.

Keep running, kiddo. Because every so often, those runs end in a goal-of-the-season contender.

19 - Dwight Gayle

Joined: 2016 (10M)

Left: 2022 (Released)

League Apps (Goals): 113 (34)

I will die on the hill that says Dwight Gayle would score 20 goals in Pep’s Man City side. His off the ball movement, pace and finishing were exquisite. It’s a shame he never got to show any of it in the Premier League under the 20-percent possession tactics of Rafa Benitez and Steve Bruce. We brought him in to destroy the Championship, and he did so with aplomb - and didn’t disgrace himself in his one Prem season as a regular starter under Rafa - six goals and survival assured. Don’t worry, Dwight - I’ve got your back.

18 - Allan Saint-Maximin

Joined: (20M)

Left: 2023 (23M - Al-Ahli)

League Apps (Goals): 111 (12)

Like another member of this list yet to come, Allan Saint-Maximin was weighed down with the expectations of an entire fanbase resting squarely on his shoulders. When the football was in the dour doldrums of the Steve Bruce era, the only tactic seemed to be to give the ball to Maxi, let him run, and hope for the best. But he couldn’t do it alone - as proven by his return of 12 goals in 111 games. But what he did do was dazzle, delight, and demonstrate an artistry for football that was severely lacking in almost every other area of the team. It’s true, for every great game he had… he was anonymous for another three. But in the modern age of football, where mavericks are rarer to find than ever before, ASM was given a license to thrill… and thrill he did.

17 - Papiss Cisse

1 cisse

Joined: 2012 (9.3M)

Left: 2016 (2.5M - Shandong Luneng)

League Apps (Goals): 117 (37)

If this list judged Cisse solely on his first half-season at Newcastle, he would easily make the top five. Sadly for Cisse, he made the mistake that his predecessors Demba Ba and Loic Remy did not… he stuck around for too long. He stuck around long enough for the teammates that made him so effective (Ba… Cabaye… Ben Arfa) to disappear one by one… leaving him as a sole relic of that unbelievable 2011-2012 team. And by the time he departed in 2016 with 37 goals (more than a third of which came in his first 14 games) the magic had long since burned out, the carriage became a pumpkin once more… but we still had a glass slipper in the form of that banana shot at Stamford Bridge in 2012. Ohhhhh yes.

16 - Fabricio Coloccini

Joined: 2008 (10.3M)

Left: 2016 (Mutual Termination - San Lorenzo)

League Apps (Goals): 248 (6)

From Sideshow Bob Ripoff to Unlikely Captain and Cult Hero - Fabricio Coloccini’s love affair with Newcastle United lasted eight years and nearly 250 league appearances. Newcastle had a bad reputation when it came to expensive centre backs (see Jean-Alain Boumsong) and that worrying trend looked set to continue when Coloccini found himself with an unwelcome relegation on his CV just twelve months into his SJP career. But he steadily turned it around, helping the side to immediate promotion and then captaining them to an unlikely 5th place finish. His powers waned eventually, but his legacy burns as brightly as ever. Oh Coloccini, we want curly hair too.

15 - Cheick Tiote

Joined: 2010 (3.5M)

Left: 2017 (1M - Beijing BG)

League Apps (Goals): 139 (1)

The second tragic passing in this list; it still seems hard to believe that the tough-tackling, multiple wife-marrying, 4-4 hero is no longer among us. But his memory lives on through millions of Geordie worshippers. That 4-4 moment will forever cement his place in Newcastle’s (and the Premier League’s) folklore… but he was so much more than that. His tenacity and athleticism were crucial to establishing Newcastle in the Premier League once more… and alongside Yohan Cabaye; the top 5. His emotions and temperament sometimes got the best of him, but he was a warrior on that football pitch, and one we Newcastle fans feel honoured to have witnessed in the famous Black and White stripes.

14 - Joey Barton

Joined: 2007 (5.8M)

Left: 2011 (Free - QPR)

League Apps (Goals): 81 (7)

From one 4-4 legend to another, that game epitomised the good, the bad, and the ugly from Newcastle’s streetwise midfield maestro. He left it all out on the pitch, showing a level of passion and competitiveness rarely seen during the Mike Ashley years. It all threatened to end in tears when he came to blows with Manager Shearer in the relegation run-in, but Joey outlasted the club legend on that occasion, and alongside Kevin Nolan and Andy Carroll, led a formidable battle-cry back to the top flight, and there they stayed, quite comfortably, with Barton laying on the delicious crosses that Carroll feasted upon. And for all his negative press - and there is much of it - it was satisfying seeing a player openly criticise the regime that employed him, even though it cost him his Newcastle career.

13 - Joe Willock

1 willock

Joined: 2021 (Loan >>> 25M)

Left: N/A (Still Under Contract)

League Apps (Goals): 82 (14)*

As I write this, Joe Willock has just been replaced by Rasmus Hojlund as the youngest player to score in six consecutive Premier League games. He’s also just scored a fantastic header - the consolation - in a 4-1 defeat to Arsenal. And never has his absence been more prevalent than now. Joe Willock didn’t just save Steve Bruce - and Newcastle - during his legendary loan spell, but he lit up the field in so many key moments in the campaign that ultimately ended in Champions League football. The opener against Man Utd… the sublime assist for Isak in the destruction of Spurs… Joe Willock is a criminally underrated footballer, and I’m quite content for the rest of the Premier League to realise that when it’s all too late. If this article was published in two years’ time, I’d fully expect him to be cracking the top 10… easily.

12 - Salomon Rondon

Joined: 2018 (Loan)

Left: 2019 (Loan)

League Apps (Goals): 32 (11)

Mitrovic out… Rondon in… it didn’t make a lot of sense to me at the time. Salomon Rondon had carved out a decent - if unremarkable - Premier League career with West Brom, and now we expected him to lead the line for us, when we already had a decent target man of our own? But what a piece of business it turned out to be. Rondon was the perfect foil to Ayoze Perez in Rafa’s pragmatic system, living off long balls and deep crosses, and delivering with deadly accuracy. The 3-2 comeback v Everton, the free kick against Bournemouth, the pile-driver against Liverpool, the equaliser against Pep’s Man City… there were plenty of good memories with Rondon spear-heading the attack. It’s all just a shame he wound up in China with Rafa afterwards…

11 - Martin Dubravka

Joined: 2018 (Loan >>> 4M)

Left: N/A (Still Under Contract)

League Apps (Goals): 141 (0)*

So unlucky not to crack the top ten… perhaps it’s because he’s a goalkeeper. And before you say it, I am not swayed by recency bias in this. Dubravka has been conceding goals left, right and centre lately, but that’s more to do with the defence in front of him (he was actually included twice in the January ‘Save of the Month’ competition), than from his own undoing. From his debut in the 1-0 victory against Man Utd, Dubravka showed he was one of those rare goalkeepers that could handle the pressure of Premier League football instantlye. Many thought it unfair that he be replaced by Nick Pope when the Saudis came in, and while Pope has justified that decision; take nothing away from Dubravka - saving goals from every angle in a porous Steve Bruce defence. Without him, we’d have been in the Championship a long time ago.

10 - Matt Ritchie

Joined: 2016 (12M)

Left: N/A (Still Under Contract)

League Apps (Goals): 182 (20)*

Corner flags beware, it’s every Geordie’s favourite Gordon Ramsey lookalike that kicks off our top 10. With a relegation exodus featuring the likes of Georginio Wijnaldum, Moussa Sissoko and Andros Townsend, it was going to take some astute business to propel us back into the top flight again. It came in the form of Matt Ritchie, who provided deadliness from set-plays, tenacity in the tackle, and a level of leadership that had been sadly lacking in the relegation season prior. He backed that up with big performances in the years to come back in the Premier League, including winners against the likes of Man Utd, Arsenal and Man City, too. Now, a senior stalwart of Eddie’s Black and White army, it felt like a fitting swan-song to see him score a last-gap equaliser against his former club Bournemouth recently, in what is likely to be his last season as a Newcastle player. And yes, he twatted the hell out of that corner flag…

9 - Hatem Ben Arfa

Joined: 2010 (Loan >>> 5M)

Left: 2015 (Released)

League Apps (Goals): 76 (13)

When people say ‘the streets will never forget’… only one name springs to mind on the said streets of Tyneside. Sure, it can be remarked that Hatem Ben Arfa never lived up to his full potential… but for Newcastle, he was a time capsule back to the days of Gazza and Robert… a maverick who played the game his way… whether his opponents (and his teammates) liked it or not. We fans watch football for its unpredictability… the script to ebb this way and that… and Ben Arfa proved time and time again that he knew how to write a thriller - adding the sprinkle of magic to the steel of Tiote… the elegance of Cabaye… and the magnetism of Cisse - as Newcastle upset all the odds to qualify for Europe, with Ben Arfa as its Wildcard.

8 - Loic Remy

Joined: 2013 (Loan)

Left: 2014 (Loan Expired)

League Apps (Goals): 26 (14)

The King of Loans… oh how we wish we’d kept him longer. Things didn’t start off on a good note between Remy and Newcastle, as he turned us down in favour of a bigger pay-packet at QPR. But when that backfired, Newcastle obliged as the needy rebound, and gave Remy the platform to further establish himself as a clinical Premier League marksman. 14 goals in 26 games makes his ratio better than one in two… it’s just a shame we let Chelsea swoop in and waste his career from then onwards. That, and the sexual assault charges… Remy was cleared of any wrongdoing; we just hope it was the correct decision and not yet another footballer splashing the cash to get out of trouble.

7 - Ayoze Perez

1 ayoze

Joined: 2014 (1.6M)

Left: 2019 (30M - Leicester)

League Apps (Goals): 179 (42)

It’s a common trait for a player to score a goal and put his fingers in his ears to signify that he isn’t listening to the abuse from the opposition fans. Ayoze Perez came to make this gesture his signature goal celebration. It was just a shame that it was in response to his own fans. We’ve covered many players that were singled out for criticism by our passionate - and often misguided - fanbase (see Jeff Hendrick and Allan Saint-Maximin) but in Perez’s case, the ire from the fanbase seemed particularly un-earned. Perez arrived as a bargain-buy from the Spanish second division, yet was thrust into the spotlight due to the injuries and ineptitude of his colleagues. But while it may have taken fortune to get him his chance, it was his ability that let him grasp it with both hands. In both of Newcastle’s first two seasons back in the top flight following relegation, Perez was Newcastle United’s top-scorer; including a hat-trick in his final season for us versus Southampton. And, when the detracting noise grew too loud and he was in the peak of his powers, Newcastle made a healthy profit on the lad, to the tune of £28.5 million. Ayoze Perez deserves our respect, and his place in 7th reflects that.

6 - Kevin Nolan

Joined: 2009 (4M)

Left: 2011 (4M - West Ham)

League Apps (Goals): 85 (29)

Many player sales hurt me as a Newcastle fan. Most of the bigger ones are still to come in this list; but Kevin Nolan’s hurt more than most. It’s true, Andy Carroll stole most of the headlines during Kevin Nolan’s time at the club (for both good and bad reasons) but Nolan was the heartbeat of the team, the driving energy that breathed fresh life into the battered and bruised football club as it fell through the relegation trapdoor, but re-entered centre stage. The derby day hat-trick alone would have secured Nolan’s name in Geordie legend, but for me, it was more the sense that with Nolan in the team, you would never be outclassed on the pitch… he would simply never let that happen.

5 - Demba Ba

Joined: 2011 (Free)

Left: 2013 (7M - Chelsea)

League Apps (Goals): 54 (29)

Newcastle’s best free transfer signing ever? It’s hard to think of an alternative. Having proved his worth in a bad West Ham side the previous season, Newcastle pounced to sign Ba; poor medical history be damned. And he duly repaid them with an extraordinary run of goalscoring that laid the foundation for Newcastle’s assault on the top 6. Whether the arrival of Papiss Cisse helped or hindered his compatriot is up for debate, but the sight of Cisse, Ba and Hatem Ben Arfa lining up against unworthy Premier League defences was a sight that had us Newcastle fans licking our lips. Strawberry syrup all round!

4 - Callum Wilson

Joined: 2020 (20M)

Left: N/A (Still Under Contract)

League Apps (Goals): 91 (45)*

Newcastle United’s answer to Baywatch, it has been a pleasure seeing Callum Wilson terrorise defences on the pitch, and terrorise fellow podcaster Michail Antonio off it. Another Premier League striker that will perhaps never earn the recognition his talent (and goalscoring) deserves, Wilson had to carve out his top-flight career the hard way; in Eddie Howe’s underdog Bournemouth and then at Steve Bruce’s (allergic to attacking) Newcastle. Yet he always found a way to hit the back of the net. We can only dare to dream what a fully-fit, 38-game a season Callum Wilson could have achieved, but as he reaches the twilight of his career, he sits pretty (very pretty) in third place on Newcastle’s Premier League Top-scorer charts. Hopefully, he can get that elusive Newcastle hat-trick and end his career in second.

3 - Fabian Schar

Joined: 2018 (3M)

Left: N/A (Still Under Contract)

League Apps (Goals): 151 (13)*

I guarantee I didn’t pick this top 4 on their looks. But with Callum Wilson in 4th and a trio of dreamboats in 1st, 2nd and 3rd… I can understand the theory. Fabian Schar may look like he’s just strode off the latest Ralph Lauren catalogue; but his displays on the football pitch are just as eye-catching. Putting himself firmly on the map with a couple of ‘worldie’ strikes back in the Rafa Benitez days… Steve Bruce threatened to rob Newcastle - and Schar - of third spot in this list; inexplicably preferring the likes of Ciaran Clark at centre-back. I’m absolutely tired of the Rolls-Royce cliche but I can understand why it is such a shoe-in for Schar, as he effortlessly combined tough-tackling with cultured diagonal passes and an eye for goal. He could genuinely play anywhere through the middle and I wouldn’t be mad. And that fourth goal against PSG was orgasmic. Best £3 million we’ll ever spend.

2 - Yohan Cabaye

Joined: 2011 (4.3M)

Left: 2014 (19M - PSG)

League Apps (Goals): 79 (17)

A strange pick for runner-up spot? It wouldn’t be Newcastle United without a healthy dollop of controversy. But as someone who doesn’t really remember much before the Ashley takeover, Yohan Cabaye was the first player I truly adored in a black and white shirt. It was always going to take some doing to soften the blow of Kevin Nolan’s departure, but Yohan Cabaye took the vacant number 4 shirt and set about making it his own; through a sumptuous cocktail of elegant passing, vicious tenacity and of course, an eye for the wonder-goal. Get up a compilation of Yohan Cabaye goals in a Newcastle shirt and you will be treated to a feast on the eyes. He did it all; deft finishes… 30-yard screamers… iconic free kicks… all while dragging a post-5th placed Newcastle kicking and screaming on his back. Sure, it ended in tears when he waltzed off to PSG at a cut-price fee thanks to Joe Kinnear… but this was the Mike Ashley era… you knew this wasn’t going to have a happy ending. Except for…

1 - Joelinton

1 joelinton

Joined: 2019 (40M)

Left: N/A - (Still Under Contract)

League Apps (Goals): 152 (18)*

The true football fans are romantics. They love a good story; with plot-twists… heroes… and redemption arcs. And the Legend of Joelinton has it all in spades. Sure, he cost five times more than Fabian Schar and Yohan Cabaye combined… but so? Never… perhaps ever… have we seen a fall and rise story quite like that of one Joelinton Cassio Apolinario de Lira.

Not clinical enough to be a striker… not pacey enough to be a winger… Joelinton seemed like a paradox that Steve Bruce’s tiny mind couldn’t quite figure out. He had the strangest of skillsets… athleticism… dribbling… aggression… but it couldn’t quite click together - especially when you were tasked with leading the line in a system that centred around defending 90-percent of the time. It didn’t work… fans grew outraged that their transfer record had been obliterated to pieces for this most ‘un-Brazilian’ of Brazilians.

But in true Newcastle fashion, it took a blessing in disguise to allow Joelinton to rise from the ashes of his striker dumpster-fire hell and be reborn as a tough-tackling, line-breaking midfield colossus… the sending off of one Ciaran Clark.

The rest is history. Joelinton went from £40 million flop to Player of the Season - and in this new era of Saudi riches, Joelinton is one of the first names on the team sheet. This season, he’s even added a Champions League goal and a derby-day victory to his Newcastle CV.

If we don’t extend his contract, I will cry.

And there we go! Perhaps one day, when we’re up to our eyeballs in trophies and billion-pound signings, we can make a new list of ranked transfers under the current regime. One can dream eh?

But wouldn’t it be something if Joelinton (maligned and mis-managed under the Ashley regime but now a shining star under Eddie Howe) someday raises the first silverware Newcastle United has seen in over 50 years?

Again… we can dream…

In case you missed them: