Is Toby Alderweireld the new Adrian Mariappa?
Greetings, Toon fans and welcome to a new installment of the CHN Links. It's another short set in number today but the potential ramifications of the stories that are linked is huge.
It's a decidedly sour tone after the jump, so be warned- I'm going to depart from my standard test that a story isn't real until I see it in the Journal or Shields Gazette or any of the other local papers because there is very real cause for concern if the latest story is true. Let's jump and get at it.
OR- We're Trying Very Hard To Bring In A Centre Half. No Really. Seriously.
However Alderweireld has dismissed all the speculation over his future and says he has no intention of leaving the Dutch giants for Newcastle or anywhere else. "I will stay at Ajax, no matter what," Alderweireld told AD5. "Don't listen to all the rumours you hear." It looks like Pardew will now have to look elsewhere for a new central defender unless Alderweireld has a change of heart.
I know that this is not a fresh story, but fueled by the other stories in today's links I have reviewed this story with a more pessimistic view and thought I would share it with you. In order to set the stage, let us review what happened at the end of the January transfer window - a window in which injury to Steven Taylor had left us worryingly thin at the CB position if you recall. You may also recall that we were thin at CB prior to the start of the season... but that's a different point. After a month of "searching", the rumors settled on Watford CB Adrian Mariappa. Without rehashing The Mariappa Debacle completely, here is a tiny bit of what I said in my review of the January window:
It was worse than the persistent rumors that the former no.9 was coming back or that Demba Ba was on his way out. I am speaking, of course, of the late-January Adrian Mariappa Debacle. This situation was the ultimate wool-over-the-eyes move from the club. Ultimately, we were sitting there yet again with a clear need in a transfer window, and we had made no progress in addressing it. #AllTransfersAWindowLate... Not too dissimilar to the end of the summer window, we suddenly fixed in on Adrian Mariappa, making a couple of ridiculous offers that we knew Watford would not accept and then drug it on. And drug it on. And didn't really want to sign him. If you want him in January, shouldn't you want him in the summer?
Soooo, yet again the management of the club insulted the collective intelligence of the supporters by perpetuating this smoke screen so that they could throw their hands up at 11:01 pm GMT and say (honestly, but dubiously) "Hey, we tried."
While there is still a lot of time left in the summer transfer window, what we do know as Newcastle fans is that stories surrounding the club are cyclical. Sometimes the cycles are decades, sometimes yearly, sometimes even more frequent than that. Is it not just starting in the back of your mind to feel and sound familiar? The club have been suddenly linked with a CB that was not one of their "top targets" that his club will have almost no interest in selling at cut rate. The main difference between this story and the Mariappa Debacle is that Ajax have sold their other starting CB in the form of Jan Vertonghen which decreases the likelihood that Ajax will sell Alderweireld at all anyway. CB is an identified area of need at Newcastle United, but with Europe on the horizon the Toon Army will not be sated with an Adrian Mariappa-style "we tried"... it must be a "we tried" of a much grander type. Why not dip into the du jour preference in CB currently and link with a Belgian CB?
We very well may end up with a European-level CB in this transfer window. For me, though, it's all just feeling a little bit familiar... and if we don't address the CB it is going to be tremendously difficult to succeed on one front this coming season, let alone two or three or four. With this, I segue to the next story link:
James Tavernier To Leave Toon?
NEWCASTLE United will be due a compensation package should promising defender James Tavernier depart the Magpies this summer. The Academy product will see his contract come to an end in the next few days and should he not opt to sign the deal offered to him by United, he will become a free agent. But because the Magpies coached and schooled the youngster during his fledgling years FA Premier League rules mean they are entitled to compensation. And the Chronicle understands Newcastle are keen to hold on to the 20-year-old and give him his chance to play in the Europa League next term.
In all fairness, the NUFC Academy has churned out some very good players (or very profitable players, perhaps) in the last handful of years. Tim Krul was an academy player. The Benign Ponytail™ was an academy product. There has also been an admitted spectacular failure in the system with the recent mass release of players. For whatever reasons, heir apparents such as Tamas Kadar (a CB...) have been flushed out of the system.
A handful of players were offered professional contracts. Perhaps the brightest of these was James Tavernier who was tipped to break into the first team picture and be a long-term solution for Newcastle on the defensive line in the future. Now, there is the very real possibility that we will watch him walk away with very little coming to Tyneside in compensation.
Perhaps we should get used to it, though...
We're Investing Heavily In Youth And Our Academy!
(But Was It Too Little Too Late?)
It is a stated goal of the club to be able to grow local talent through the Academy system and alleviate the need to purchase in transfer windows on a grand scale. In fact, there was a promise of a multi-million £ investment in the Academy a couple of months ago and a promised rise in annual budget for the academy in order to impress the EPPP auditors who were visiting to determine Newcastle's fate as a Level 1 or Level 2 Academy. Granted this story has not been picked up anywhere besides goal.com at this point... but it's hard to imagine a worse scenario than this.
Goal.com has learned that 12 clubs of those clubs have now been inspected by the League’s independent standards organisation, with Newcastle one of three teams who have been given an indication that they have failed to reach the top ranking.
Embarrassingly for Newcastle, rivals Sunderland and Middlesbrough have been told they are set to be successful in achieving their Category One aim, as were Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea, Stoke City, West Ham United, Fulham and Southampton.
It is certainly not an end-of-the-world scenario if Newcastle's Academy is rated Category Two, and this is certainly by no means a done deal at this point. However, Newcastle's mission to develop local talent into first team talent is going to take a significant hit if the result of the audit process puts us in Category Two. Perhaps Mike Ashley's reluctance to put money into the club until it's two beats too late is going to
bite him in the butt bite the club in the butt this time.