Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Gini's out the Bottle in Red - but Magpies Need to Grant Rafa's Wish for Midfield Threat; THE AGENDA: Why Newcastle Must Avoid Any Delayed After-Effects of Dutchman's PS25m Transfer

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Gini's out the Bottle in Red - but Magpies Need to Grant Rafa's Wish for Midfield Threat; THE AGENDA: Why Newcastle Must Avoid Any Delayed After-Effects of Dutchman's PS25m Transfer

Article excerpt

Byline: Chris Waugh Sports Writer Twitter: @CHRISDHWAUGH

MOUSSA Sissoko to Tottenham Hotspur for PS30m remains an inspired piece of transfer business for Newcastle United.

Magpies managing director Lee Charnley undoubtedly got the better of notoriously difficult negotiator Daniel Levy on that one.

Sissoko has started just eight Premier League games all season and contributed a total of two assists.

For a PS30m attacking midfielder, the Frenchman's contributions this year have bordered on pitiful.

That deadline-day transfer last summer ensured United ended the transfer window with a PS30m-plus net profit, and they were very clearly the beneficiaries of that transaction.

But the PS25m sale of Georginio Wijnaldum to Liverpool is a far more intriguing one to analyse.

The Dutchman was Newcastle's top scorer during the doomed 2015/16 campaign, netting 11 goals in 38 Premier League games.

He produced some match-winning performances - most notably when he netted four during the 6-2 victory over Norwich City - but Wijnaldum was very much a home bird.

All 11 of those strikes came at St James' Park, while his contributions on the road could often best be described as inconspicuous.

During the second half of the campaign his form nosedived as he first lost faith in Steve McClaren and was then dropped unceremoniously by Rafa Benitez once his focus clearly shifted towards a summer exit.

But unlike Sissoko, Wijnaldum did not go public with his desire to depart.

Instead, the attacking midfielder asked his agent privately to explore his options, while making it clear to Benitez and United that he did not want to play in the Championship.

There was fleeting interest from Spurs, Everton, Lazio and Roma - but it was Liverpool who made a firm move.

Jurgen Klopp had long admired Wijnaldum's creative abilities in the middle of the park.

At first, when Charnley made it clear to the Reds that it would take a bid of PS25m-plus to take Wijnaldum to Anfield, Liverpool dallied.

Their initial interest had turned Wijnaldum's head, and Merseyside was his preferred destination - but Newcastle did not want to be sold short.

A PS14.5m fee to bring Wijnaldum to the North East from PSV Eindhoven the previous summer needed to be inflated by more than PS10m given the lucrative new TV deal, the Chinese influence on the market, as well as the Dutchman's enviable ability to score goals from midfield.

Benitez became exasperated by the situation and personally intervened to make the transfer happen.

As well as using his connections at Liverpool to communicate with their board, Benitez also belatedly added Wijnaldum to the team sheet for a pre-season friendly at Doncaster Rovers.

That forced the Reds into action; they blinked first and agreed to meet United's PS25m fee. …

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