Newcastle: Howe could have signed ‘world-class’ £43m Barnes alternative

Newcastle: Howe could have signed 'world-class' £43m Barnes alternative
Newcastle: Howe could have signed ‘world-class’ £43m Barnes alternative

Newcastle United might just be poised for an enduring spot among Europe’s elite. The club is very much on the up and while there has been great fanfare over the success of qualifying for the Champions League last season, the onus is now on ensuring that such European endeavours are sustained.

Eddie Howe deserves all the plaudits for the stellar work he has plied since joining the managerial dugout shortly after the lucrative PIF takeover in October 2021, now fighting for accolades throughout domestic and continental competition.

Last weekend, the Magpies obliterated hapless Sheffield United 8-0 in the Premier League, having battled to a hard-fought goalless draw against AC Milan on their return to Champions League competition in midweek.

Two very contrasting results and performances, but both demonstrate facets of this outfit’s incredible rise, capable of unleashing its might on inferior quality and holding its own in the Lion’s den.

Having finished fourth in the Premier League last term – ahead of the likes of Liverpool, Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur – the Toon invested well this summer, fortifying the ranks with additions fit to replicate the previous feats.

Newcastle summer signing 23/24

Price (via Sky Sports)

Sandro Tonali


Harvey Barnes


Lewis Hall

Loan (£35m obligation to buy)

Tino Livramento


Yankuba Minteh


And while Newcastle suffered three successive Premier League defeats after winning big against Aston Villa at St. James’ Park in their season opener, the blip looks to be behind them and success is surely on the horizon for this talented crop.

One of the summer signings, Harvey Barnes, has ebbed and flowed from form since joining in July, despite an emphatic debut introduction against Unai Emery’s side, and is now stricken by an ankle injury sustained against the Blades that is likely to rule him out for several months.

Why did Newcastle sign Harvey Barnes?

Newcastle signed Barnes in the summer for a reported fee of £39m, with the Englishman joining from Leicester City – who had just been relegated – having dazzled for years on the Foxes’ books.

Indeed, the 25-year-old has been a prominent name in the Premier League in recent years and has registered 62 direct goal contributions from 146 outings in the division.

Once praised as an “unbelievable” talent by Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp, Barnes hit his prolific zenith last season and plundered 13 strikes from 34 appearances in the top-flight, one of the few members of that woeful City squad to emerge from the 2022/23 campaign with their head held high.

Despite Leicester’s struggles last season, he was still an integral member of their squad and a starring attacking force on Premier League soil. As per FBref, he ranks among the top 7% of attacking midfielders and wingers across Europe’s top five leagues over the past year for goals scored per 90.

Such exploits prompted Howe and co to swipe his signature, and after entering proceedings against Villa in the second half for his debut in August, his composed pass and incisive late finish gave him a goal and assist on the most resounding of Toon introductions.

Despite the recent injury news, the £80k-per-week ace is undoubtedly a good signing, the replacement for Allan Saint-Maximin, who left Newcastle for Saudi Arabian side Al Ahli for a fee in the region of £23m in July.

Offering a very different style of wide play, the Frenchman is a fleet-footed, enigmatic trickster and captured the awe of the Tyneside masses across his 124 displays, but he only scored 13 times and was shipped out for a star of a sharper cutting-edge – especially considering Anthony Gordon had been signed in January.

At no discredit to Barnes’ abilities, would Federico Chiesa have not been a better fit? The Serie A sensation has endured his fair share of injury woes over the past few years but now looks to have put that behind him, and Newcastle were indeed interested in signing the Juventus winger this summer.

Were Newcastle interested in Federico Chiesa?

According to Italian newspaper Tuttosport – via Sport Witness – Newcastle maintained an interest in Chiesa this summer even after signing Barnes, though nothing came of it after the Old lady demanded €50m (£43m) for his services to dissuade suitors.

Premier League rivals Aston Villa were also attentive to his situation, while earlier reports seemingly confirmed Howe’s desire to bring him to St. James’ Park.

He would have certainly offered something different to the Toon attack, once said to be “world-class” by former Italy international Alessandro Pierini and a “wizard” with the ball at his feet – as was lauded by writer Roger Bennett.

He had indeed missed 62 matches due to injury after sustaining an ACL injury in 2022, but looked promising in the late phase of the 2022/23 term, posting two goals and assists apiece across the final five league matches.

As per FBref, the 42-cap Italy star has been in fine fettle over the past year, despite wrestling with injury problems, ranking among the top 3% of positional peers for assists, the top 7% for shot-creating actions, the top 9% for progressive passes, the top 2% for progressive carries and the top 6% for successful take-ons per 90.

This season, he looks to be back to his very best, having scored four goals and supplied one assist across the opening five games of the campaign.

Barnes’ contribution on his debut is surely evidence enough that Newcastle have signed a player capable of playing a big role over the coming years as they continue their ascent to the very forefront of the game. And while he is a clinical winger, Chiesa surely would have been a signing capable of providing the dynamic threat requisite for success at the highest level. That’s not to say that Barnes won’t succeed, but Chiesa’s expansive set of skills would have opened up more than a few dimensions to the Magpies’ offensive drive, and that ‘wizard’ would have conjured up more than a bit of magic on Tyneside.
Newcastle: Howe could have signed 'world-class' £43m Barnes alternative
Newcastle: Howe could have signed ‘world-class’ £43m Barnes alternative

Newcastle: Howe could have signed ‘world-class’ £43m Barnes alternative

Newcastle summer signing 23/24Price (via Sky Sports)
Sandro Tonali£55m
Harvey Barnes£39m
Lewis HallLoan (£35m obligation to buy)
Tino Livramento£32m
Yankuba MintehUndisclosed
Newcastle: Howe could have signed ‘world-class’ £43m Barnes alternative

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