Newcastle United and Fulham both enjoyed starkly contrasting summer transfer windows: Newcastle’s was predictably characterised by a tight-fisted approach from Mike Ashley whilst Fulham were eager to make a handful of coups on their return to the Premier League.
Following seasons of frustration under Ashley’s ownership, the Newcastle supporters were given further reason for complaint during the summer window as two of the promoted clubs spent heavily in the market to make dramatic improvements to the quality of their respective squads.
Fulham took plenty of onlookers by surprise as they brought Borussia Dortmund’s Andre Schurrle to the club on a season-long loan deal, but Newcastle brought in a versatile attacker of their own from the Bundesliga by signing Yoshinori Muto from Mainz.
Plenty is expected of both the aforementioned players this season, so let’s take a look at how their credentials compare.
Newcastle’s struggle to find the back of the net was one of the most dominant themes for the club during the 2017/18 campaign, so it was no surprise that bolstering the attack was at the top of Rafa Benitez’s agenda during the summer window.
A centre-forward by trade, Muto was Newcastle’s most expensive signing of the summer at £9.5 million, but so far he has been limited to three appearances off the substitutes bench totalling just 45 minutes of Premier League football.
During his cameo appearances the Japan international has shown brief glimpses of the quality and work-rate he will install into Newcastle’s attack, but it’s far too early to make an accurate judgement of his potential to thrive at St James’ Park.
Based on the brief time Muto has spent in a Newcastle shirt so far, his modest price-tag and previous history in the Bundesliga, he should enjoy plenty of success on Tyneside over the course of the season.
TT Grade: B
The former Chelsea attacker’s decision to swap Dortmund for Fulham naturally aroused plenty of hype at Craven Cottage.
The Germany international (valued at £13.5 million by Transfermarkt) is incredibly versatile in forward positions and he possesses a level of quality which will give Fulham immense hope in their bid to beat the drop this season.
Schurrle demonstrated his fantastic level of composure and clinical instinct in the penalty area on his first start for the club on Sunday afternoon by also notching his first goal to put the game beyond Burnley’s reach with just 7 minutes of regulatory time remaining.
Throughout his career so far Schurrle has made a habit of arriving in the right place at the right time to score vital goals, and his strike against the Clarets suggests that trend is set to continue on his return to the Premier League
TT Grade: A
Newcastle will have to wait and be patient with Muto as he adapts to the speed and intensity of the Premier League, but in Schurrle Fulham have a player with a proven track record in the top-flight who should have no problem making an instant impact.
On paper, Schurrle is a much better signing that Muto as his rich history at both club and international level along with his ability to slot into a variety of attacking roles should ensure a successful season in Fulham white.
The only down side for Fulham is that they will only benefit from Schurrle’s services for a single season as it stands, but he still wins this battle regardless of the length of his stay in south west London.