Newcastle United have made their second signing of the summer as Ki Sung-yueng on a free transfer from relegated Swansea City. The South Korean captain has signed a two-year deal at St James’ Park and adds Premier League experience to the Magpies’ squad.
The Northern Echo report that he has been signed to help replace Mikel Merino who is set to move back to Spain and join Real Sociedad.
There has been a mixed reaction to the signing. On the one hand, Ki is a seasoned Premier League player capable of making meaningful contributions at the highest level and he is a low-risk capture on a free signing.
However, given the negativity within the fanbase regarding the lack of transfer funds being made available for Rafa Benitez, the fact this is a free transfer hasn’t increased optimism that the manager will be backed.
There have been plenty of rumours regarding the future of the Spanish coach, but he has spoken positively about his new signing. He told the official site:
“I’m pleased to welcome Ki to the club. He is a player with lots of Premier League and international experience and it was an easy decision to bring him here.
“He is the captain of his country, a good character and he will be a good addition to the squad.”
Ki arrives with over 150 Premier League appearances to his name, while he has over 100 caps for South Korea. Newcastle did well to finish in the top ten last season, but they were a young squad and game management was a weakness of theirs at times. Benitez will be hoping that the 29-year-old midfielder can improve that aspect.
Benitez will also want his team to retain possession better in the 2018/19 campaign and Ki is an excellent passer of the ball. His pass accuracy has remained around 90% throughout his time in England and he possesses the quality to make positive contributions with the ball.
In addition to his possession play, the South Korean offers a goal threat with his best season coming during the 2014/15 season. He scored eight Premier League goals during that year.
It is too soon to fairly judge this signing. If Newcastle are bringing in Ki to spend big elsewhere, it is a shrewd deal by the club, as he can still contribute in Premier League matches.
However, if it is a sign that another low spending summer is ahead, supporters have the right to be concerned about the long-term future. Looking back at the Ashley tenure, fans on Twitter can be forgiven for taking the second view, as shown below:
So we sell Merino for 12m and bring in Ki to replace him for nowt…..Ashley at his best ???
— ???? GEORDIE ???? (@MarcTaylor7) June 29, 2018
Ki on a free & Mikel Merino out for £10m sounds just like Mike Ashley’s Newcastle United that. New kit is a belter though!
— James Beedie (@17jamesbeedie) June 29, 2018
Underwhelming as fuck. Nothing against Ki and I hope he does well, but this is what we’ve become under Ashley. Bargain basement freebies with no real strengthening.
Ashley fucking out!!
— Kriss (@Kriss_nufc83) June 29, 2018
Not having a go at Ki, I think he is a decent signing for nothing. But let's face it, he is 29 replacing a 22 year old in Merino. That is bad business and another reason we will go nowhere with Ashley as owner.
— Kiwi (@K7Waldenbrau) June 29, 2018
Sell Merino for £12m. Replace with Ki Sung Yeung on a free. Most Mike Ashley move of all time.
— Aaron McGinn (@AaronTRMcGinn) June 29, 2018
Merino £10mil, Mitro £15-20mil, Mbemba £5-10mil, there’s a minimum of £30mil to spend. Dubrovka £4mil, Ki free….no excuse to not go and splash the money on Kennedy if all they’re wanting is £20mil. Then the fat controller can stick his hands in his pocket for a striker.
— Nathan Nicholson (@JnathanN) June 29, 2018
The only way Ki being a replacement for Merino becomes acceptable is if we now go out and spend upwards of £20m on a striker.
Funds from the sales of Mitro and Mbemba will then need to be reinvested as well.
— Gary Watson ?? (@TheMackemSlayer) June 29, 2018
Ki is alright, free is good.
But it's sending out a haunting message for #NUFC's summer. Spend some money, man!
— Marc Jobling (@MarcJobling) June 29, 2018
That new kit is magnificent. Ki could be a decent addition IF we sign a few players for actual money and aren’t (as I suspect we will be) scraping the barrel.
— Dan Nolan (@Dan_Nolan) June 29, 2018