In January 2019, Newcastle United broke their long-standing transfer record to sign Miguel Almiron from Atlanta United for around £21m. Whilst this was a record for Newcastle at the time, and to our supporters felt like a big signing, this sort of fee wasn’t really a substantial deal in context with the rest of the Premier League.
However, fast forward only six months later, and Newcastle shocked us all, when they spent £40m on Brazilian Joelinton from Hoffenheim. I keep an eye on the top leagues across Europe and watch matches and highlights whenever I can, however I have to admit, I was not aware of Joelinton when we signed him, and had no idea what to expect. A few searches on YouTube unearthed the usual “Welcome to Newcastle (Insert Player Name)” compilations of Joelinton, however his odd goal here and there along with a few mazy runs didn’t really do a lot to excite me. But, as I am no professional scout, I could only assume Newcastle splashing £40m on a player meant they had done their homework and they thought he was a real talent worth every penny. Unfortunately, it hasn’t quite turned out that way.
Image credit Daily Star
It’s fair to say Joelinton’s time at Newcastle so far has been rather underwhelming. His first season in the famous number 9 shirt was nothing short of a disaster. Joelinton netted his first goal for Newcastle in a 1-0 win away to Spurs, and with it being quite early in the season, there was hope that goal would really see him kick on and go on a run. This was definitely not the case. We didn’t see another Premier League goal for Joelinton for another 2,130 minutes of action, when he scored against Sheffield United in a 3-0 in front of an empty St James’ Park. It was a terrible season for our record signing, and one that left most of us thinking there wasn’t really any way back for him from there.
One thing we did learn from Joelinton’s first season at Newcastle was, he is not a striker, especially if he is playing in that role alone. In the most recent season, we have seen a significant improvement in Joelinton’s performances. Some people may think I am being kind using the word “significant”, however I think because the bar was so low from his first season, any form of noticeable improvement would be a positive.
In the most recent season, Joelinton has had the burden of being our focal point taken away from him due to the superb signing of Calum Wilson. Wilson’s arrival has seen Joelinton deployed in a wider role, allowing him to get the ball into feet more and having options to link up with and build attacks. This does seem to have suited him so much better, and there even seems to be a greater confidence within himself, and on his day, he has proved a handful, especially in the more physical encounters he has had. Joelinton’s goalscoring stats have improved as well, and granted he had a spell towards the end of the season where he had a mini spree of goals, but his contribution to the team as a whole last season has come on leaps and bounds.
Image credit Getty Images.
However, one thing that always seems to stick with Joelinton is his price tag. Yes, Newcastle paid £40m for him, and we have seen nothing even close to suggest he is, or ever will be worth anything close to this. But, the player didn’t ask for this fee to be paid for him. Newcastle chose to pay this based on the research they had done, and all the player can do is make the move, and do his best for us. The issue is, this high price tag seems to really take focus in each and every aspect of Joelinton’s Newcastle career to date. It seems to be after he has given a good performance, we aren’t really allowed to praise him for this as “we should be seeing much more than that for £40m.”
Being a regular user of social media, I do feel there are people that already have the notion firmly planted in their mind that Joelinton can do no right, and wrote him off long ago, and no matter what he produces now, it will never be enough to change their stance on him. I can hold my hands up and say most of Joelinton’s first season, and the beginning of last season, I HAD written him off, and didn’t see any way he could make a success of himself here. However, I think he has improved a lot in the second half of last season, and I give him full credit for sticking with it, and putting in some very good performances to help steer Newcastle to safety. He chipped in with some important goals and assists, and really looks to have so much more confidence in his ability, and dare I say it, even enjoying his football here.
The main question I am asking here is, what will it take for fans to start giving Joelinton a chance, and start looking past the huge price tag that came with him? The reality is we aren’t going to get a 15-20 goal season out of him with assists galore to his name, but who was the last player Newcastle had that could consistently produce those sorts of numbers? A similar example to Joelinton would be Pepe for Arsenal. A player they paid a massive £72m for, and who also endured a terrible first season at the Emirates, with everyone bringing up his price tag on a regular basis. Fast forward to this season, Pepe’s form has transformed, with him scoring 16 goals in 46 games this season, 10 of which came in the Premier League. However, despite this upturn in form from Pepe and the impressive displays he has put in, especially in the latter stages of the season, all I seem to see on social media is things like “for £72m, this is the least we should be getting.” Why can’t we just look at a player for who they are and what they are doing on the pitch, rather than the price tag they had absolutely no control over?
Image credit the Telegraph.
Going into next season I will be hoping Joelinton can kick on and put in good displays on a consistent basis, with some goals along the way, and hopefully win a lot of our supporters over. We all want our players to be a success, but in order to help them achieve that, we need to get behind them and praise them when they do something right, rather than go to that place at the back of our minds that has already decided they aren’t good enough.
£40m will always be the fee we paid for Joelinton, but that shouldn’t be used as a stick to beat him with over and over again.