When news broke that Newcastle had accepted a £35m+ offer from Liverpool for striker Andy Carroll I was intrigued. I said to a friend at the time it was win-win for the club, they either became £35 million richer or kept Andy Carroll.
The deal was finalized close to 11pm GMT and Carroll became the most expensive British player in history. The majority of the media chose to focus on what the future held for Liverpool having just spent over £50m on strikers and let Fernando Torres depart but what about Newcastle? By far the club’s most exciting prospect since the day’s of Paul Gascoigne and he is sold before even completing a season in the top flight.
The manager Alan Pardew has since confirmed the full £35 million will be re-invested in player acquisitions, however he was less keen to mention that the money would cover both transfer fees and wages. The club will need to fill the void left by Carroll. His goals were important but his aerial prowess cannot be found in any of the current roster of forwards. It’s likely Dane Peter Lovenkrands and Nile Ranger will leave in the summer, the latter only on loan however.
So, who can fill Andy Carroll’s boots now that he’s gone?
Fans of Newcastle need not panic just yet. With the signings of Hatem Ben Arfa and to a much larger extent Cheike Tiote it would seem the club have a fantastic scouting network. It is with little doubt that period between now and July will be spent evaluating and identifying targets for the summer window.
The astronomical fee should also allow the club to improve the other weak areas of the squad. A backup for Spaniard Jose Enrique is a must. Youngsters Tamas Kadar and Shane Ferguson while having potential are not nearly ready for the demands of regular Premier League action. Depth on the wings while appearing not a necessity would benefit the squad. This issue has only been enhanced with the loan departure of Wayne Routledge to QPR, a surprising move when you consider how thin the squad already was.
The club did try and strengthen in the hours before the window closed. Bids for Wigan’s Charles N’zogbia were quickly turned down amid claims from Pardew that the club were quoted ‘extortionate’ fees. That of course is to be expected. If you have just come into £35 million pounds, clubs are going to try and squeeze a higher price… even more so if it’s hours before the transfer deadline.
However the one potential positive to come from January on Tyneside was the arrival of Stephen Ireland on loan from Aston Villa. The 24-year-old is the quintessential Mike Ashley signing, minimal risk. Young, cheap, and with potential for growth if the Irish midfielder can recapture the form of his time at Manchester City he may prove to be more shrewd business from those in charge at St James Park.
Away from the business side of the deal the sale will serve as a blow to the fans. It’s bad enough to lose your top striker but it’s made worse when he’s one of your own. Ignoring the blame game both sides are attempting to play, Carroll didn’t have to sign the contract with Liverpool. For him to agree to the move and speak of his joy at it will no doubt be a bitter pill to swallow for the fans who adored him so much and stuck by him during his off field issues. Yet in the long term if the club successfully reinvests the money the way Arsenal did with the sale of Nicolas Anelka then this may just prove to be the deal that elevates Newcastle back to the status of a top half side.
Who do you think will score goals for Newcastle now that Andy Carroll has left?