"It's Well Grim Up North" Is Newcastle United's Location Affecting Its Appeal In The Transfer Market?

Published on 8 July 2023 at 20:00

“It’s cold up there in Summer, like sitting inside a fridge. But I wish I was on the Quayside, looking at the old Tyne Bridge” 


The lyrics of ‘Home Newcastle’ (the iconic song by Busker often played before each game) portray the city, home to the Premier League’s most Northern club, as being a cold place that you can’t help but fall in love with, especially if you’re a local.


But it’s unfortunately not as beloved by those further south of the Tyne.


A viral video of Kylian Mbappe and France teammate Antoine Griezmann gave a slight insight into Mbappe’s thoughts on the North of England after Griezmann signed Mbappe for Newcastle in Football Manager. “Newcastle? It’s not warm there, huh?” was the 24-year-old’s response: within a virtual game or not, it does showcase a mentality that many European or global stars may not be particularly interested in joining the Newcastle project purely based on its weather and location. 


So the question is: to what extent is Newcastle’s location, such an important part of its identity, in fact a detriment to the club’s growth and appeal to international stars?


Just recently, James Maddison was the subject of heated transfer negotiations with both Newcastle and Tottenham Hotspur: where Newcastle had the Champions League football, upswing in momentum, and even more financial power than a seemingly cash-strapped, deal-striking Spurs could offer, Leicester and the Englishman opted for the move to North London instead.


Declan Rice, one of the most sought after players in world football, had a variety of clubs to choose from: a resurgent Man Utd, treble winners Man City, European powerhouse Bayern Munich, and yet Rice was the most keen on remaining in London and not travelling North nor abroad to further his career. 


And until roughly 24 hours ago, Harvey Barnes was reported as not wanting to upheave his life in the Midlands when Newcastle came a calling, allegedly wanting the move to Aston Villa for the sake of his family instead of playing on Tuesday nights under the lights at St James’ Park. 


If these are just the reported cases of domestic players not wanting to make the move up to Newcastle (or northern clubs in general) in favour of living the high life down South, then many might see this quite a damning indictment on modern player mentality.


It’s a simple fact that Newcastle is indeed a very cold city. It’s not as vibrant with celebrity, influencer and mainstream culture as Manchester or London are, but for some of those who have taken the leap to move to the cold, unfamiliar North, they’ve been worshipped as Gods and haven’t looked back since. 


Bruno Guimaraes, who has won the hearts and minds of fans and neutrals alike, made the move to Newcastle in January 2022. A Brazilian coming from the South of France, having played in the semi finals of Champions League for Lyon just 18 months prior, might have expected both a culture shock and quality shock considering the state of Newcastle at the time. 


Instead, Guimaraes has been wholly embraced by the local community: “I think the best thing that could have happened in my life was to join Newcastle.” Even Bruno’s father has been filmed rubbing shoulders with the Geordies in celebration of his son’s fine form.


So whilst Bruno Guimaraes is simply one player, he’s perhaps the leading example of players taking that risk and going to less ‘desirable’ footballing locations and reaping the rewards from it all.


Now backed by the PIF of Saudi Arabia, Newcastle are going to have the added stigma of clubs knowing they’re exorbitantly wealthy as well as being a ‘rogue’ location compared to London, Western Europe and the Mediterranean for big talent to transfer to. 


So what may the foreseeable future spell for Newcastle United in the transfer window? Settling for Premier League talent knowing the mega talent and transfer costs of Mbappe, Neymar, or even Declan Rice are simply unattainable no matter how much money and European football is being offered? 


It may take numerous years of European football (and quite a deep dip into the Public Investment Fund) to coax some truly elite talent to Tyneside, but with the form of Newcastle alongside other great northern football clubs like the aforementioned Manchester clubs, then there’s no reason why the North can’t become the go-to place for the very best footballers to come and showcase their talents in the near future.


Well, that and climate change make the weather a little more tolerable. 


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