Ciaran Clark turned out to be a stellar buy for Rafa Benitez last summer.
Ciaran had always looked a classy player once he came through the Aston Villa Academy, but like a lot of Villa player in their previous relegation season he had played poorly.
So it was a little bit of a surprise when Newcastle activated the release clause in his contract, which was for a measly £5M.
He had a terrific season for us and the 26 year-old was first choice last season with captain Jamaal Lascelles in central defense.
26 year-old Ciaran Clark – great season
Ciaran was one of 12 players Newcastle brought in last summer for what we estimated at £55.5M in a transfer window when we made at least £31M in profit.
It was one of the best transfer windows Newcastle have had in many a year and the first for Rafa at the club – not a coincidence by the way.
Ciaran was surprised when he arrived at Newcastle because everybody was upbeat after our relegation and he said the team spirit was already good.
Everybody was delighted that Rafa was staying with us of course.
This is what Ciaran has said in the Shields Gazette today:
“As soon as I came in I felt there was a strong bond between the lads.” “Despite the number of new signings everyone settled in really quickly.”
“That was credit to the staff and the players that were already here – they made us all feel so welcome.”
“I think that has shown when we have gone out on the pitch. “That was our first season together.”
“Hopefully, now we can push on and improve as a team.”
“It was a great feeling.” “It was something we wanted to achieve from the start of the season. “It was great for the fans, for the staff, for everyone.”
“We hit a bit of a poor patch towards the end of the season, then the teams around us started to win.” “The pressure did start to pile up.”
“But we knew what we had to do, and in the end we did it.”
Newcastle look poised to sign two center-backs in the near future – 23 year-old Ruben Semedo from Sporting Lisbon and 26 year-old Florian Lejeune from Eibar – for around £20M for the two of them.
So Ciaran will have his work cut out for him next season to retain his starting position in the side.
If we do get Ruben and Florian in then we have to think Chancel Mbemba will be on his way out of Newcastle and we should get a very decent fee for the former Anderlecht center-back.
What do you think?