Several players joined Newcastle United since the arrival of Rafa Benitez in March of 2016, but who were his top signings?
Newcastle United and Rafa Benitez have a lot of work to do this week seeing that only eight days remain on the Spaniard’s contract with the club. Several rumors have been published over the last month regarding Benitez’s future, but we can only hope that this potential takeover will keep him on Tyneside.
The current contract saga is hurting Newcastle United in a major way, especially in the transfer market, and it needs to be resolved immediately. That being said, though, while we wait for answers over the next eight days, let’s take a look at the four best signings the Magpies made under the managerial tenure of Rafa Benitez.
4. Matt Ritchie
Matt Ritchie joined Newcastle United from Bournemouth in the summer of 2016. His consistent form and 12 goals from midfield in the Championship enabled the Toon to earn immediate promotion to the Premier League.
In the Top Flight, Ritchie maintained his role as a starter over the past two seasons as a result of his unwavering work ethic, quick feet and precise crossing. Moreover, he also proved that he can play as a winger and a wing-back for the Magpies.
3. Martin Dubravka
My hat goes off to Steve Nickson for finding this hidden gem in the middle of the Czech Republic. Martin Dubravka was an unknown player when he made his debut as a loanee against Manchester United last season, but he has flourished into a top keeper since then. He joined the Magpies on a permanent deal last summer and in his first 18 months with the club he has maintained 15 clean sheets (11 this past season), made 121 saves and only made four errors leading to goals in 50 appearances.
2. Miguel Almiron
Miguel Almiron is currently the most expensive signing in Newcastle United’s history as his move from Atlanta United cost Mike Ashley £21M in January. Unfortunately, Almiron did not fill up the stat sheet with goals and assists, but he transformed the way the Magpies play. His arrival enabled Benitez to deploy a 3-4-3 attacking formation, which saw the Toon average 16 shot attempts per game. Almiron constantly set up big plays that led to goals and he grew in confidence before picking up a hamstring injury. The expectations will be very high for the former MLS star next season and the goals will surely come.
1. Fabian Schar
The best signing that Rafa Benitez made as the manager of Newcastle United hails from Switzerland and only cost the club a mere £3M. Fabian Schar joined the Magpies last summer after Deportivo La Coruna were relegated from La Liga. He struggled for playing time during the first two months of the season, but when his number was called it was game over for other central defenders.
His confrontational style of defending frustrated opposing attackers, his good vision enabled him to push forward multiple times in every match and his ability to score four goals as a center-back was the icing on the cake. In my opinion, Schar should be the team’s captain next season. He is a true general on the back-line and he is a signing that Benitez can be proud of.