If the Magpies were linked with a loan move – any kind of temporary switch – you could as good as dismiss it
The response from Newcastle United used to be uniform. You might say you could set your watch by it.
If the Magpies were linked with a loan move – any kind of temporary switch – you could as good as dismiss it.
Senior sources would pour cold water on it, pointing out Mike Ashley was not a man to waste money unnecessarily.
“He deals in assets and loan fees are seen as cash frittered into the ether,” a boardroom source – since departed – once reasoned.
Two years on, United are again loan arrangers.
Loic Remy was signed in the summer, nabbed after United negotiated a labyrinth of agents, contacts and people close to the player, but only on a temporary basis.
In January, it appears Newcastle are seriously interested in bringing Wilfried Zaha from Manchester United – a player they know the Red Devils won’t part with permanently.
Add into the mix the noises made by Alan Pardew last month about trying to broker a loan for Romelu Lukaku and it becomes pretty obvious Newcastle have changed direction in their recruitment policy. Again, they are looking to shorter- term solutions which have aided their Premier League rivals for so long.
So what encouraged the change? Is it healthy for a club which once found loan fees abhorrent enough to dismiss loans entirely out of hand?
Well, the pragmatic way to view it is any move which allows Newcastle to add internationals like Zaha and Remy is a positive.
The Magpies under Llambias were quite rightly criticised for their inflexibility when it came to recruitment.
It was either their way or the highway and United’s tendency to walk away from deals because the odds weren’t loaded in their favour harmed them.
A senior figure at the club bemoaned in September 2011 United failed to land their striker targets in the transfer window because they were trying to do the “perfect deal.”
This new approach is imperfect, but that’s the way the market has developed in the last few years.
This new policy represents an acknowledgement bigger, better and more successful clubs have been prepared to use the loan system to their advantage. When a club like West Brom, hardly fast and loose spenders under the careful stewardship of Jeremy Peace, essentially build their team around a loan player in Lukaku then there is a feeling the Premier League is moving on.
Yet Newcastle know this policy has its pitfalls. The first problem with loan moves is success often breeds problems. When it comes to Remy, for example, the maneouvring has already begun surrounding his summer intentions – and we are only in mid-November.
As soon as the goals started flowing – and Newcastle knew they would for he is a player of rare pedigree – there were attempts behind the scene to try to fast-track a permanent move.
A fee has already been agreed, it is understood, with the price layered depending on where Newcastle finish, but that is only half the battle for the Magpies.
A bigger problem is convincing the clan of advisers and agents who surround Remy that Newcastle is the best place for him to be playing.
In pragmatic terms this involves the financial terms of the deal – although any move is complicated by the ambitions of the player.
Remy – for all he is genuine in his assertion Newcastle have been good to him – is someone who knows his own value.
One agent who used to represent him who was contacted over the summer by The Journal said the people now surrounding him are ruthlessly ambitious.
Newcastle knew this too, and sought reassurances from those around him that he was coming for the right reasons.
It leaves Newcastle – and Pardew – in a quandry. Securing a player like Remy gives United a massive lift but they face the prospect of starting again in the summer if he does decide to go elsewhere. Much like when Demba Ba might have left – and Yohan Cabaye over the summer – it is the uncertainty that is damaging for the management and coaching team.
There is another school of thought and it surrounds Ashley’s long-term intentions for United. While Derek Llambias once saw it as vital to invest in long-term contracts, tying down Newcastle’s brightest players and key staff members to lengthy deals, now there is a willingness to look at shorter-term solutions to tide United over.
The temptation might be to surmise Ashley is now training his intentions on the medium or short term at United – financing moves which will ensure Newcastle achieve their priority of staying in the Premier League every year. Add into the mix the feeling from north of the border Ashley is consolidating his interest in Rangers and there is an overall impression Newcastle are now applying short-term solutions to longer-term problems because the owner doesn’t want the club to foot the sizeable bill of financing permanent moves for players like Zaha.
Those within the club would counteract that by pointing out United’s recruitment is now more geared towards bringing in younger, British players. Coventry’s Callum Wilson and MK Dons’ Dele Alli are both on the radar – and United want them to sign permanently.
As with most things with Ashley, it comes down to finance.