Mike Ashley’s attitude towards the transfer market has repeatedly served to infuriate Newcastle supporters throughout his time as owner of the club, and his decision to offload Moussa Sissoko on deadline day in 2016 serves as a quintessential example of how he has failed the supporters with his policy.
That Michael Owen still holds Newcastle’s transfer record following his £17 million from Real Madrid in 2005 has consistently been cited to highlight their alarming lack of progression in the last 13 years.
Whilst football clubs throughout English football have been splashing the cash and welcoming ambitious investors, Newcastle have been standing still with Ashley at the helm.
But it’s not only Newcastle’s long-standing transfer record that can illuminate Ashley’s shortcomings as owner of the club, as Moussa Sissoko’s sale in 2016 simply adds fuel to the fire.
Newcastle signed Sissoko in January 2013 for a fee of just £1.8 million, which seemed a fair price for an attacking-minded midfielder who had only mustered 1 goal and 1 assist in 19 Ligue 1 appearances prior to his departure.
Fast forward three and a half years and Sissoko’s modest return of 12 goals and 19 assists from 133 appearances for the Magpies earned him a £31.5 million move to Tottenham Hotspur following an impressive tournament at Euro 2016.
£29.7 million profit in the back pocket for a player who had undoubtedly flattered to deceive was a deal which Ashley simply couldn’t refuse and rightly so.
The Newcastle supporters couldn’t begrudge him for that but, in a summer when Ashley also offloaded Georginio Wijnaldum and Andros Townsend in lucrative deals, his failure to reinvest that money later down the line is quite frankly disgraceful and counter-intuitive.
Ashley’s approach is not only tight-fisted but also nonsensical from a business perspective: to survive in the Premier League in this day and age it’s simply imperative to invest in new talent, otherwise ambitious clubs with frivolous approaches will prosper at the peril of those who cannot compete in the transfer market.
More than two years on and Ashley’s refusal to properly reinvest fund accumulated from Sissoko’s sale and other high-profile departures is beginning to manifest itself in Newcastle’s performances.
The quality of the squad is clearly lacking in comparison to the rest of the division and, until Ashley sells the club to an ambitious investor, Newcastle supporters will continue to be disappointed by their controversial owner.
Ashley could perhaps be forgiven if his lack of expenditure was due to a lack of surplus cash, but Sissoko’s sale serves to prove that he has refused to invest even when he has been presented with the necessary finances from which to do so.
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