We were asked to review the foreign transfers Newcastle have made in the past – and after reviewing buys starting in the Kevin Keegan era what comes across era and what comes across is that he was the only manager who was successful with bringing in foreign players. Here we review 32 foreign transfers and give our opinion of them – of course a few of them were diabolical (two to be exact – guess who) – but this is one for the ages – so read on and enjoy!
Kevin Keegan – Newcastle Manager 1992-1997
- Phillippe Albert – Belgium – Defender
Signed by Keegan in 1994 and made 96 appearances for Newcastle in his 5 years at the club. Phillipe was a popular player and very good and he scored 8 goals for us. Success.
- David Ginola – France – Left Wing
Signed in 1995 by Kevin Keegan and stayed for two years before joining Tottenham. A beautifully skilled player who brought magic to St. James before leaving for London where they suddenly discovered David was a fantastic player. Made 71 appearances for us and scored 7 goals.
- Faustino Asprilla – Columbia – Striker
Signed by Keegan to help us win the league in 1997 – but tended to upset the balance of the team and cost us â‚¤7.5M from Parma. Scored a famous hat-trick at St. James’ Park against Barcelona in one of the best European nights on Tyneside. Didn’t stay long and sold back to Parma. Made 48 appearances for us and scored 9 goals. An exciting and incredibly talented player.
- Jon Daal Tomasson â€“ Denmark – Striker
Signed in 1997 by Kenny Dalglish when 19 years old and stayed at Newcastle for just one season but not quite good enough at the time. He only made 23 appearances for Newcastle and scored 3 goals. He has done very well since leaving Newcastle and has looked good for Denmark where in 85 appearances he has scored an incredible 43 goals. He left for Feyenord in 1999 where in 122 games he scored 55 goals â€“ then went to Milan in 2002 (till 2005) and scored 22 goals in 55 appearances. He joined Villareal in 2007. Probably too young when he came over so has to be a
- Allesendro Pistone – Italy – Defender
Qualifies because signed from Inter Milan in 1997 by Dalglish having never played in England before. Made his debut on August 9th, 1997 (same debut as Shay Given) against Sheffield Wednesday in a 2-1 win at St. James’ Park. Signed as a center back and switched eventually to left back where he made 46 appearances for us and scored 1 goal. But cost an enormous â‚¤4M and never justified that price tag before being moved on to Everton in 2000. Injury prone. For 4M a
- Temuri Ketsbaia
Ketsbaia became a free agent in the summer of 1997 and joined Newcastle. A popular player with the fans, Ketsbaia was used sparingly by the club, particularly by Dalglish who saw Ketsbaia as a fringe player and regularly used him as a substitute. Although impressing at Newcastle it is not only his performances Ketsbaia is remembered for but also his bizarre celebrations, such as kicking the advertising board after scoring a goal against Bolton. This was done in frustration at having been constantly used as a substitute by Dalglish. Left in 200 for Wolves in a Â£900,000 deal so we made money on him.
- Didier Domi – France – Full Back
Having appeared in the UEFA Super Cup for PSG against Juventus in 1996-1997 in the next campaign he took part in the UEFA Champions League and helped PSG win both the French Cup and League Cup. He moved to Newcastle for Â£4M in January 1999 but after a good start he fell out of form and favor and began 2001 and finally returned to PSG for the same fee in 2001. Played 55 times for Newcastle and scored 3 goals.
- Andreas Andersson â€“ Sweden – Striker
Signed in 1998 by Kenny Dalglish and stayed for one season but not good enough for Newcastle. He made 21 appearances for Newcastle and scored 8 goals. He was a Swedish International and played 42 times for them and scored 8 goals. Andreas was not suited to the rigors of the English game and didnâ€™t welcome the physical presence of the English game.
- Dietmar Hamann â€“ Germany â€“ Defensive Midfield
Signed in 1998 by Kenny Dalglish and stayed for one season before being enticed by Liverpool. He had just played for Germany in the 1998 World Cup and looked â€“and was â€“ an accomplished defensive midfielder. He was very good for us â€“ when he was here – and scored a few rocket goals. Played for Germany regularly appearing 59 times for them and scoring 5 goals â€“ he is the typical German player â€“ does the easy things well and is an accomplished player. Scored the winning goal against England at Wembley in Keeganâ€™s last game as England manager (October 7th, 2000). (Kevin resigned after the game)
- Nikos Dabizas -Greece – Center back
He signed with Newcastle in 1998 on an initial four-year contract, which was to expire in 2002 but was renewed well ahead of time and was to see Nikos in the team until June 2004. He famously scored Newcastle’s winning goal in the 1-0 victory in the local derby away to Sunderland. Being left out of the first squad since the spring of 2003 Nikos had no option but to seek a transfer and eventually signed for Leicester City in 2004 – after refusing a move to Arsenal.
- Nolberto Solano – Peru – Right Wing
Signed by Kenny Dalglish for â‚¤2.5M from Boca Juniors in 1998. In his first spell at club (until January 2005) He appeared 172 times and scored 29 goals. Since he returned in 2005 has appeared 57 times and scored 8 goals.
Success – Best Foreign Buy Ever
- StÃ©phane Guivarc’h – France – Striker
Signed by Kenny Dalglish after the World Cup in 1998 when France won – Stephane is not well remembered by Newcastle fans and he was moved on within months as his style of play was too like that of Alan Shearer and he wasn’t as good as Alan (understatement). We paid around â‚¤6M for him but moved him to Rangers when Gullit took over as manager and at least got our money back. Made 4 appearances and one goal – which he scored on his debut at home to Liverpool. Should never have been signed.
- Laurent Charvetâ€“ France â€“ Right Back
Laurent joined us for â‚¤750,000 from Cannes in 1998 and played 40 times for Newcastle over the next two seasons scoring 1 goal. The previous season he had been on loan at Chelsea and had played for them 11 times scoring 2 goals. Bought by Joe Royle of Manchester City for â‚¤1M at the start of the 2000 season. strong>
- George Georgiadis – Greece – Midfield
George joined Newcastle from Greek club Panathinaikos in the summer of 1998 for a fee of Â£420, 000. He returned to his native Greece with a Â£500,000 move to PAOK Salonika a year later. Played only 10 times for Newcastle – not good enough
- John Karelse – Holland – Goalkeeper
Signed in a panic buy by Ruud Gullit in 1999 and only played a few times for the first team – but showed himself to be a good squad player – always very positive – but didn’t have enough talent for Newcastle. Stayed for the length of his contract – 4 years.
- Diego Gavilan – Paraguay – Midfield
Signed for â‚¤2M when he was 19 years old from Paraguay and said to be the best young player in South America. Looked quite good at the beginning but didn’t come through and put out on loan for the rest of his contract. GavilÃ¡n was loaned out to Club Autonoma Universidad de Guadalajara in Mexico for the year, by which time he had played only two further games for the club. In 2003 GavilÃ¡n joined Sport_Club_Internacional of Brazil. In 2006, GavilÃ¡n signed for Argentinian side Newell’s Old Boys and finally this year signed with GrÃªmio, returning to the city of Porto Alegre, in Brazil. Still plays for Paraguay having made over 30 appearances.
- Marcelino Elena – Spain – Center Back
Signed by Ruud Gullit for Â£6M after impressing playing with Real Mallorca in Europe and was seen as a good stable defender.A lot was expected of Marcelino because we were weak in those days in central defense (sound familiar?) and Gullit brought in both Goma and Marcelino to fix the problem. However – his first injury occurred in the first game of the season and he never returned after half time. That was an omen. Fans were not happy with his performances and he appeared only 19 times for the club in 3 years before he was released in 2002. Marcelino suffered several different injuries during his time at Newcastle – including a broken finger kept him out for a couple of weeks. This was seen by Newcastle fans as a poor excuse not to play and he probably will go down as the worst buy in club history
- Frank Dumas â€“ France â€“ Center Back
He briefly played for us in 1999 before moving back to France to join Marseille. Played against Chelsea in Bobby Robsonâ€™s first game in charge in which Frank had excellent game but we lost 1-0 after a rousing performance. Robson wanted Frank to stay but he elected to return to Marseille. strong>
- Alain Goma – France – Center Back
Signed from PSG in 1999 for Â£4.7M by Ruud Gullit he initially became an important player at the start of the 2000/2001 season but it became apparent he would be moving on after two seasons. At the time First Division promotion certainties Fulham paid Â£4M for his services in March 2001 – as they looked to bolster their squad in readiness for Premiership football.
- Louis Saha â€“ France – Striker
Louis joined Newcastle on loan from French side Metz in January 1999. He played well while at the club but Gullit was unsure whether to sign him for â‚¤2M â€“ and finally decided not to make the move permanent. At that time Louis had a few rough edges â€“ but as Alan Shearer later said â€“ he worked on his faults and became a much better player. He is now of course at Manchester United and along with Tomasson are two that we had but let go â€“ and these two have become great strikers. Since he wasnâ€™t signed weâ€™ll class him as
- Silvio Maric – Croatia – Midfield
With us from 1999-2000 and signed by Gullit for â‚¤2M but couldn’t really cut it in the Premiership. He made his Premier League debut for Newcastle United on 10 March 1999 against Nottingham Forest, but never managed to establish himself as a regular at the club and, after making 23 Premier League appearances without scoring a goal, went on to move to Portuguese side FC_Porto in 2000. At Newcastle United, he notably managed to become the first Croatian player to appear in an FA Cup Final when he came on as a substitute in the Magpies’ 2-0 defeat to Manchester United in the 1999 Final.
- Daniel Cordone – Argentina – Striker
Signed on loan for the 2000-2001 season with a permanent deal agreed at â‚¤2M if he was successful. Not good enough although he did score a couple of goals for us in 21 appearances.
- Olivier Bernard – France – Left Back
Strong and willing player when he first signed for us under Bobby Robson in 2000. Made the left back his own and scored a few cracking goals. Then had fall out with the club. Signed again on 1st September last but never made another senior appearance for us and let go a couple of weeks ago.
- Christian Bassedas â€“ Argentina – Midfield
Signed in 2000 by Bobby Robson from Velez Sarsfield for â‚¤4.1M as we brought in a number of South American players â€“ none of which turned out to be any good. Never seemed to get to grips with the English game and was loaned out to Tenerife for season 2001-2002 and finally moved to Newellâ€™s Old Boys in 2003. For â‚¤4.1M has to be classed as a
- Clarence Accuna – Chile – Defensive Midfield
Defensive midfielder signed by Bobby Robson for â‚¤1M in 2000. Always played his heart out for the team and made 46 appearances over 3 years for Newcastle scoring 6 goals. For â‚¤1M
- Laurant Robert – France – Left Wing
Joined Newcastle in 2001 for a fee of Â£9.5M – following a dispute with PSG coach Luis Fernandez. He was at times good at Newcastle but was lazy and would never track back to help out the defense – he didn’t think he shopuld have to do that. Bobby Robson called him the most difficult player he has ever worked with – quite a distinction Laurant. A managerial dispute was also the cause of Robert’s exit from Newcastle since Robert had a very strained relationship with Graeme Souness – when he took over from Bobby. Portsmouth were able to acquire him on loan, but the move quickly turned sour with Robert becoming increasingly unhappy with his role at the club. In January 2006 he returned to Newcastle, who allowed him to join Benfica on a free transfer. Played 141 times for the club and scored 24 goals. Given he cost us Â£9.5M have to rate him a
- Sylvain Distin – France – Center Back
Signed on loan from PSG for the 2001-2002 season and played for us 34 times. Following the loan spell, Newcastle wanted to sign him for Â£4M and the club thought the deal was done. But then Kevin Keegan came in and offered him more money and eventually he opted to sign for Manchester City. He said it was because he wanted to play in his preferred position of center back and had been used as a left sided defender as Newcastle. Don’t you believe it – he went for the money. For his loan season he was a
- Hugo Viana – Portugal – Midfield
Hugo started his career at Sporting Club of Portugal where he won Young European Footballer of the Year in 2002. He was then signed by Bobby Robson at Newcastle United for â‚¤9.5M. He played here for two seasons where he made 39 appearances mostly as substitute – and then returned to Sporting on loan. At the start of the 2005-06 season he went to Valencia, again on loan. In March 2006, reports stated that Valencia had signed him on a permanent deal for â‚¤1.5M. Given we lost â‚¤8M on him he has to be a
- Patrick Kluivert – Holland – Striker
Joined Newcastle in August 2004 on a free transfer and stayed for only one season. Often accused of being at Newcastle for the money and although a tremendously skilled player seemed to lack any motivation – although he did score some good goals for us – including a great header that won the FA Cup tie against Chelsea in early 2005. Paid him a huge wage and didn”t get the value.
- Charles N’Zogbia France – Left Wing
Just turned 21 and has been at the club 3 years. Became unsettled last season becasue he was not getting a game but we think Big Sam has come just in time – and expect to see the very best out of Charles now – assuming he can get a game now. He will have a chance with Duff injured.
- Jean-Alain Boumsong – France – Center Back
Signed by Souness in January 2005 for â‚¤8.5M after joining Rangers on a free in the previous summer. Souness overpaid for a player who started quite well but in his second season lost confidence, made some Bramble-like errors – and lost his place. Sold to Juventus for â‚¤3.5M last summer. Made 47 appearances for Newcastle. Diabolical Failure
- Albert Luque – Spain – Left Winger
Albert Luque was signed on the 26 August 2005 from Deportivo La Coruna, signing a five-year contract with the Magpies. We paid Â£10M for him and he was signed when Souness was manager. He got injured in his very first game and was out injured. Has never seemed to be up to the physical challenge at Newcastle and Glenn Roeder refused to play him for much of last season. For a fee of Â£10M he has never looked up to it – but he has also not had a fair run in the side. He has appeared 20 times for the club (9 starts) and scored 1 goal. Must go down as one of the worst buys ever at Newcastle. Will be out on loan next season at PSV – so we don’t have to pay his wages.
So if we look at some statistics there are 9 successes (according to us) of the 32 transfers.
Three of these were in the Keegan era so if we take these out there are only 6 in 29 classed as successes (21%).
So in the last 10 years or so we have had only 6 successes in 29 attempts and 17 of the 29 were failures or diabolical failures (59%).
The three diabolical failures were a striker and two center backs – Albert Luque, Marcelino Elena and Jean-Alain Boumsong. Marcelino is no longer playing and Boumsong is now at Juventus while Luque will be on loan at PSV next season..
Let’s hope that Big Sam’s planned captures of Derek Boateng and David Rosehnal will reverse the trend and get back to Keegan’s 100% record.
Comments very welcome on this one.