April 12, 2021

Ashley drops a clanger with NUFC deal for £4.5m-rated dud “below Premier League class” – opinion

3 min read
Mike Ashley has dropped a clanger amid claims Dwight Gayle is set to sign a...

Mike Ashley has dropped a clanger amid claims Dwight Gayle is set to sign a new three-year contract to remain at Newcastle United.

What’s the word?

According to The Athletic, Gayle has committed his immediate future to the Magpies by agreeing to sign a new deal but on lesser terms.

The 31-year-old was due to be a free agent at the end of the current campaign, but has put pen to paper on a deal that will see that he remains at St. James’ Park through to at least the summer of 2024.

Gayle’s contract status had seen Galatasaray emerge as one of several Super Lig sides to be credited with an interest, along with potential moves to the Middle East, Europe or Major League Soccer.

Gayle was earning £40,000-per-week at Newcastle on his previous deal, which placed him level with captain Jamaal Lascelles and above Martin Dubravka (£38k-p/w) in the Toon’s wage bill, per Spotrac figures.

Newcastle boss Steve Bruce had been pushing for Gayle to receive a new contract despite rarely favouring the forward, with the £4.5m-rated dud only staring two of his 11 Premier League appearances this season.

“We’ll do everything we can to get him tied up,” Bruce said, via quotes by Chronicle Live, in December. “Obviously, he’s been struggling with an injury, but I think we’ll do our best and I hope that he can stay.”

Yet the United head coach has often overlooked Gayle despite a hamstring injury for 10-goal top-scorer Callum Wilson, with the London-born frontman left an unused substitute on nine occasions in the top-flight this term – including the 3-0 defeat to Brighton & Hove Albion prior to the international break.

Should Newcastle retain Gayle?

Newcastle are expected to operate on a shoe-string budget in the summer transfer market due to the loss of revenue from games being played behind closed doors all season, making the retention of those set to become free agents key.

Yet retaining Gayle, even on lesser terms, should be seen as a mistake by Ashley should Bruce manage to keep Newcastle in the Premier League, as the striker has rarely met the standard required of him since leaving Crystal Palace in 2016.

The Magpies paid £10m for Gayle five-years ago and his efforts fired Rafa Benitez’s side to an immediate top-flight return with 23 goals in 32 Championship fixtures. But the following term only featured six goals in 35 Premier League games, before spending the 2018/19 campaign back in the second-tier on loan with West Bromwich Albion.

He was on fire at The Hawthorns with 24 goals in 40 league games, including the Play-Offs, but returned to Tyneside to strike home just five times in 31 Premier League fixtures over the past two seasons – only one of which has come this term.

Gayle’s performances under Bruce, during what have been two injury-ravished campaigns, have ensured that he was namechecked by Micky Quinn recently when listing some of the players responsible for Newcastle’s fight for top-flight survival.

“They’re on that slippery rock. You look at some of the players: Jonjo Shelvey and Dwight Gayle… Andy Carroll – past his sell-by date – Joelinton – couldn’t hit a barn door with a pea. These are guys I think fall below Premier League class,” Quinn told talkSPORT last month.

To now retain Gayle would suggest that Ashley has accepted relegation and is confident in the striker repeating his 2016/17 season, and is rewarding him for the commitment to stay and help secure another immediate return to the top-flight.

AND in other news, Newcastle are planning an £8m move for a “great character” with an amazing skill set…

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