By 90Min
August 08, 2018

Newcastle United might have added six new faces to their roster, and may still sign a further two on deadline day, but on the whole it has to be considered a failure of a transfer window.

Fresh off the back of a remarkable 10th place finish and a full season of Premier League advertising revenue, manager Rafa Benitez had a plan.

There were lists. There were targets.

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In the mind of the Spaniard, this was the summer where he would get to finally strengthen and put Newcastle in the position he wanted for the upcoming season - in a position to challenge for the top eight and push for a trophy.

Those were ambitious, but reasonable, plans. They were plans that excited the fans and got a buzz generating around Newcastle. Fortunes finally looked like they were turning on Tyneside.

And then... well, then they didn't.

Despite the meticulous plans and tenfold deep lists of transfer targets, Newcastle didn't strengthen. Instead, owner Mike Ashley was once more non-forthcoming with funds and the Magpies scraped around the bargain bins of the transfer market.

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Goalkeeper Martin Dubravka, United's first signing, remains an example of when a cheap deal can be brilliant at just £4m - but the player was already on loan at the club for the second half of last season.

His transfer wasn't so much smart business as it was a necessity to be complete. There may have been actual riots if it hadn't gone through.

Then there came the deals for Kenedy and Ki Sung-Yueng.

The South Korean joined on a free transfer and looks like a good addition to a worryingly threadbare squad - but a free transfer is hardly inspired.

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Kenedy's deal - well, that was a travesty.

He's back at St. James' Park for another season. That's great. There are few fans that would argue otherwise...but why he's here on loan, rather than as a permanent transfer, nobody but Ashley could logically reason.

Chelsea had demanded £20m for the Brazilian, which while it sounds like a lot is a bargain in the world of the Premier League. Most teams are paying that fee for a backup player, let alone a regular starter.

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It also would have met Benitez's one demand for signing a new contract - something he hasn't done - which was to back him this summer and sign a marque player.

Kenedy would have ticked that box and the Magpies would have had Benitez locked down for longer. Yet, for reasons unclear to anyone really, it didn't happen. He joined on loan instead, and the Benitez saga is set to return later in the season.

Then came the rest of the deals. Fabian Schar was a good, cheap option that showed the strength of Newcastle's scouts while Yoshinori Muto - the club's most expensive signing this summer at £9.5m - is a good addition but he's hardly going to tear up the Premier League next season.

Finally, West Brom striker Salomon Rondon arrived - on a 'loan swap' deal. Dwight Gayle went the other way for the season, which will serve him well, but the Venezuelan striker hardly eased concerns in the striking department.

There was little comfort in the selling side of the summer, either.

Benitez and his staff did a good job clearing out some of the high wage bills that had existed on the periphery of the squad (Jack Colback) - but they had also done this under the assumption they would be able to replace and improve on them.

Instead, Newcastle have just been left with a relatively thin-on-the-ground squad ahead of the new Premier League season.

Other sales came as part of a sell to buy situation Benitez found himself in later in the transfer window.

Spanish midfielder Mikel Merino departed to Real Sociedad, which seemed sensible given that the player has struggled to return to his previous form since he suffered a back injury midway through last season.

However, most agregious was the situation regarding the sale of Aleksandar Mitrovic to Fulham.

Not the sale, itself. That made sense too - Benitez didn't trust Mitrovic enough to play him, so the club might as well cash in on him - and they got a good fee for him.

The problem is that the money received for the Serbian international, well, it appears to have entirely disappeared. It certainly doesn't appear to have been put back into the transfer kitty as was assumed would happen following the sale.

Once again, Newcastle find themselves at the end of transfer window disappointed and still having glaring issues that simply weren't addressed - almost entirely because of a lack of funds and urgency to do deals from the higher-ups at the club.

Regardless of how Newcastle do next season, whether the Magpies struggle or Benitez pulls off another miracle-working, this summer transfer window has to be considered a failure.

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