History has proven a dismal fact – Newcastle United is a selling club. Going back to the 1980s when home grown talents Gascoigne, Beardsley and Waddle all departed once their talent became clear, we’ve always sought to cash in on our best assets.

When we’ve gained momentum and created a squad that’s been capable of challenging at the top end of the league, players have been sold. In some cases, the aim was to balance the books, in others, the ‘bigger clubs’ have come sniffing and we’ve buckled in the face of the dollar bills. Take, for example, Kenny Dalglish dismantling of the ‘entertainers’ in the summer of 1997, following two second place league finishes in a row.

Out went Les Ferdinand and David Ginola, to be replaced with Jon Dal Tomasson and Des Hamilton. In the following January, Tino Asprilla departed following an FA Cup tie at Everton and the squad had all but lost its cutting edge.

Fast forward to the unique 2011/12 season when Alan Pardew’s squad secured a 5th placed finish and Europa League qualification, it became obvious that we were not going to hold on to the, to quote Sir Bobby; ‘blue chip players’ who go us there. Rumours of a release clause in strike Demba Ba’s contract started doing the rounds and he was soon off to Chelsea. ‘Don’t sell Cabaye’ we sang on the terraces in Bruges, but the midfield maestro inevitably departed for PSG in January 2014. Academy product Andy Carroll was sold to Liverpool in January 2011 after a startling first half of the season in front of goal.

In between we had the Souness debacle when he took apart Sir Bobby’s Champions League squad. Bellamy,  Solano and Robert being the notable departures.

It clearly makes business sense to sell for profit. The £35 million sale of Carroll to Dalglish’s Liverpool in 2010 and the £16.5 million gained from the sale of Cabaye, providing good examples of sensible trading. However, in a step forward and 2 back. We failed to secure any adequate replacements for those top quality players who departed. Shefki Kuqi for Carroll, for example. You could argue Loic Remy filled Ba’s shoes nicely, but he was only a loan signing, before departing for Chelsea.

However, how many of these players actually progressed in their careers once they packed up their lockers at Longbenton. We all know the Andy Carroll story. Often injured at Liverpool, he was sold to West Ham where he spent 6 seasons, but another series of injuries limited his appearances. He returned to Barrack Road in 2019 for reasons un-known, making cameo sub appearances, including all of 30 seconds at West Brom in a dyer 0-0 draw in March 2021, before recent short spells at Reading and the Hawthorns.

Demba Ba had a 2-year stint at Chelsea but was in and out of the side and faced competition for a regular place from strikers Samuel E’to and Fernando Torres. The signing of Diego Costa in the summer of 2014 paved the way for Ba’s departure to Besiktas. The Senegalese striker did feature in the Champions League semi-final for Chelsea in 2014 but only managed 33 appearances and 7 goals in total, compared with 54 and 29 whilst playing in Black & White.

Cabaye got his move to the French capital but only turned out 39 times for PSG, scoring 1 goal. He won the French cup, but was sold to Crystal Palace a year later. Running out in front of 25,000 spectators at Selhurst Park, compared to a packed out SJP, and represented a clear step back in the players’ career. Cabaye then had a brief spell at Al-Nasar in Dubai before returning home for what would be the last move of his career, joining St-Etienne.

In the same era fellow Frenchman Mathieu Debuchy showed his qualities at right back at SJP. Mobile and athletic, Debuchy was up and down the right wing, whilst also putting in solid defensive shifts. Once his pal Cabaye was away, it was only a matter of time before Debuchy departed and he was tempted by the bright lights of London, joining Arsenal in the summer of 2014 for a reported £6 million. Long term ankle and shoulder injuries restricted Debuchy to 13 appearances across 4 seasons at the Emirates. He was loaned out to Bordeaux in 2016 and later joined St- Etienne permanently.

Going back to the ‘entertainers’ era, upon arrival as Newcastle manager in January 1997 the Board asked Kenny Dalglish to cash in on the top assets. Les Ferdinand and David Ginola joined Spurs the following summer, but neither player reached the heights they had whilst playing in Black and White stripes. Both had been part of a Newcastle squad that had finished second in the Premier League 2 seasons running and qualified for the UEFA cup and Champions League. Neither player reached those heights with any of their clubs post Newcastle, although both did win the League Cup with Spurs in 1999 and qualify for the UEFA cup, a campaign that finished in the second round the following season.

I could go on and mentioned more players who haven’t exactly gone on to pull up too many trees following big money moves to supposed ‘big clubs, including those who jumped ship at the end of the 08/09 relegation season; Sissoko, Beye and Martins. But, the point I wish to make is this; it must be incredibly difficult for any player to better their career once they leave Newcastle United. Why? Trading in playing in front of 52,000 fans for numbers half that size, departing a city that eat sleeps and breaths football and leaving a guaranteed starting spot to compete with 2,3 or maybe 4 players in the same position. If the previous regime had sold more of a vision to the players then they may have stayed.

The new ownership have clearly identified that the foundations are there to make Newcastle United successful on a global stage. International stars now see this as a place in which they can progress their careers and reach their peak. The likes of Guimarães and Trippier would not have signed otherwise.

Let’s see what the future holds.

Adam Morrison @AdamMor41788032