There is no doubting that Jonjo Shelvey is a talented footballer. Still only 23, the Londoner has played for England at all levels and has six caps for the senior team. His recent £12 million move to Newcastle makes it four clubs already in his career. But why has the midfielder never really been able to settle at any of his previous clubs?
Many would suggest this comes down to his attitude and in many ways this is true, but it is also a result of untimely circumstances – first Liverpool and more recently at Swanse. With a fresh start and the love of the 50,000 Geordie faithful every week, Shelvey will flourish on Tyneside.
His debut performance at the weekend certainly showed promise as he was named man of the match, and showed his creativity on the ball and eye for a pass. He looked comfortable in his quarterback type role; a position that suits him down to the ground.
This is a shrewd bit of business by Toon boss Steve McClaren, not only because performances like the one against West Ham could almost single-handedly save Newcastle from relegation, but also because Shelvey is English.
Ever since the club signed Yohan Cabaye in 2011 from Lille, it feels like all other transfer business done since then has been aimed at tying to replicate that success.
Yes he was a snip at £6.5 million, but Graham Carr and the Newcastle scouts have repeatedly gone back to France on the hunt for more. Trying to find the next Cabaye though has proved unsuccessful on the whole and the fruits of their labour have been less than mouthwatering.
Since that signing in June 2011, no fewer than 12 players, the majority of them French-born, have made the journey to the north-east from Ligue 1 for fees ranging from £2 million (Haidara) to upwards of £12 million for the likes of Remy Cabella and Florian Thauvin.
Most of these signings have been flops. Time and time again these players come with no experience of the Premier League apart from what they have seen on TV and cannot cope with the frenetic pace and physical demands of the league.
Emmanuel Riviere, Sylvain Marveaux, Massaido Haidara, Roman Amalfitano, Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa, Yoan Gouffran along with Cabella and Thauvin have all made the trip north and failed to acclimatize.
Moussa Sissoko I would suggest is the only exception to the rule and his £2 million signing from Toulouse was good business. Mathieu Debuchy also had a good season before money and the lure of Champions League football at Arsenal proved too strong for him.
What I am trying to say is that it is all very well and good trying to find bargains abroad and quickly integrate them into a Premier League team, but history tells us that the majority of the time this does not work and with the cutthroat nature of the English top flight, you take too many wrong turns and before you know it, Championship football looms.
Newcastle have also relied heavily on the Dutch markets in recent times, again with a limited success. Shelvey provides a welcome change from the norm, and I think McClaren and owner Mike Ashley should consider scrapping the club’s previous transfer policy and look closer to home.
It seems that this is happening with other English talent being touted this window.
Still without an out-and-out goal scorer, the club is in the hunt for a striker and Saido Berahino’s name has been mentioned again over the last couple of weeks.
However, Newcastle would have to go beyond the £18million mark to get the England Under-21 international – a fee that would smash the club’s record of £16million paid for Michael Owen in 2005. The Magpies also have Spurs for company as they look to snap up the forward who was called up by England last season.
Berahino has had issues with West Brom and has not always seen eye to eye with Tony Pulis at the Hawthorns. It is thought he is admired by chief scout Carr and has been checked out consistently on UK scouting missions. Nonetheless, Newcastle are seemingly confident that they can get the youngster settled and focused on his football.
The bookies also have Andros Townsend as clear favourite to be a Newcastle player before the end of the window. Tottenham want £14million for the England international and a loan deal with a view to a permanent arrangement has also been discussed.
However Ashley has made it clear to managing director Lee Charnley that he is prepared to invest. Indeed, while Ashley took a back seat at St James’ Park at the end of last season in terms of boardroom discussions, he is still the club’s main benefactor and wants to be a Premier League club next season when the £5 billion TV deal for top-flight clubs gets under way.
In the current market, good, British players will cost inflated prices, but I see these as good investments and ones that can walk straight into the team without any time to adjust.
Bobby Robson had the right idea with a whole host of British talent in his squads. If Newcastle want consistency in the toughest league in the world and want to start to challenge for those higher positions again, they need to change their transfer policy and now is a good chance to be able to do so.
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