CHRIS Hughton has declared Newcastle United’s January recruitment drive a “success” – insisting that all of his new recruits have the potential to become established Premier League players.
United brought their business to a close by signing Coventry City’s pacey forward Leon Best yesterday for an undisclosed fee believed to be a around £500,000, as well as finally selling Geremi to Turkish side Ankaragucu.
The 23-year-old Republic of Ireland signed a three-and-a-half year contract following the permanent deals for Danny Simpson, Mike Williamson and Wayne Routledge – all of whom have substantial experience in the second tier.
But Hughton – who said loan moves between now and the end of the season are “unlikely” – last night refuted suggestions he has recruited solely to get his side out of the Championship.
He believes that his additions are “exciting” and have the ability to improve during their time at St James’ Park.
“We have got good value for money and I believe the squad is in better shape now,” he said.
“It’s a difficult market to operate in. If you want to bring in established strong Premier League players it is going to cost you a lot of money. But I am
delighted with what we have done – I have no complaints about the backing I got from the owner.
“It was not a case of bringing in players who will only do a job for us in the Championship. Wayne Routledge has Premier League experience but Danny Simpson, Mike Williamson and Leon Best are players we feel can develop at the club.
“Can they become regular Premier League players? That is up to the individual and how they develop.
“But they are all a good age and for me, the most important thing is they all have ability and potential to develop into that kind of player.
“It is up to us as well, of course. We have to coach them right and make sure we use them in the right way, but the most important thing is they have the ability.
“For me it is more exciting to bring in players where you can see the potential. And of course they are very excited about being at Newcastle, because it is a fantastic club. The chance to establish themselves here is a big motivation.
“Of course, the most important thing is to get into the Premier League – we have to get there first and these players know this division.”
Best, who will compete for a spot in the side with Andy Carroll, Shola Ameobi, Peter Lovenkrands and Nile Ranger, offers Newcastle a different option – and Hughton admits adding pace was an important consideration in January.
“I think what we wanted is different types of strikers. We know we’re going into the business end of the season and have to be able to compete on all fronts,” he said.
“He’s different: he’s got a bit of power and a bit of pace. He’s a lad that has played in this division and is used to it. More importantly he’s got lots of potential.
“He’s 23 and that is a very good age. We feel that there’s a lot more to come from Leon and that we can bring out the best in him.”
United could not do a deal for Victor Moses, who signed for Wigan, but Hughton said he had always factored for missing out on some of his targets. “Everyone knows we were interested in Victor and we tried to sign him but he decided to go to Wigan,” he said.
“Sometimes you can’t affect what happens. Every club has players that they target but don’t get.
“There’s so much business being done, you need to have other options and that’s what we had.”
Meanwhile, Hughton says he will give his new players time to settle before considering the loan market. He retains an interest in Carlos Vela, the Arsenal forward, but is unlikely to pursue it unless his squad is hit by injuries.
“I can’t see too much change in the squad between now and the end of the season at the moment,” he said. “I think we will just have to get a feel for the team now that we have added the new players.
“It is always open to us.”