It isn’t hard to pinpoint when the panic set in for Newcastle fans. The January transfer window has been fraught with nerves, against the backdrop of a relegation battle that has promised a miserable ending all season. Everything went into overdrive with the release of a statement from Lyon on Wednesday. Newcastle had been in talks with the French club over a deal for midfielder Bruno Guimaraes and it emerged one had been agreed.
Numerous sources reported the news and it felt like a major breakthrough, only for Lyon to make clear their denial. Despite the new owners’ best efforts, a refreshing change of pace from the previous regime, it has not all been plain sailing this month. Newcastle’s wealth, coupled with their difficult league position, has put them on the back foot with selling clubs. After whispers of a planned marquee midfielder, the confusion surrounding the 24-year-old Brazilian was a low point for many.
But this is what Lyon do in a bid to retain control of the narrative and they’ve done it before. The announcement killed the mood and raised panic but, by Sunday afternoon, Bruno Guimaraes was photographed signing his four-and-a-half year contract at Newcastle, officially becoming the second most expensive signing ever made at St James’ Park at £33.5m.
He is the sort of player who can turn a frustrating window into a positive one, especially given the late and sensible additions of Matt Targett and Dan Burn from Aston Villa and Brighton respectively who will tighten up a shaky defence.
But Bruno Guimares is the signing that shows the potential of Newcastle. He can control the midfield on Tyneside for years to come and, while the concession of 43 goals in just 21 games, the second most in the league, have shone the light on a defence starved of improvement since 2018, Guimaraes finally fills a gap that has been neglected for even longer.
A consistent feature of Newcastle’s play for some time has been the lack of midfield control. The team has actively shied away from possession, perhaps a deliberate ploy to keep the strong defensive unit, but that has been eroded over the course of years. Particularly since Howe’s arrival and a change of emphasis, the result has been a chaotic feeling in every game, Newcastle have been left badly exposed.
Something that should be noted about Bruno Guimaraes is the manner in which he will impact Newcastle in defence and attack. He sits deep and solidifies but takes risks and plays the ball forward as well, commanding his area of the pitch. For too long, Newcastle have cowered in games. Both the defeat to Cambridge in the FA Cup and subsequent draw with Watford at St James’ Park showed how the team have struggled with any sort of momentum change.
Going behind or ahead, they’ve not had enough energy or impetus to respond or reach the next level, in part because there is no technical presence in the middle of the park to drive them on. Jonjo Shelvey doesn’t have the energy, Joe Willock is best further forward and there are serious questions over Sean Longstaff’s future. Not since Yohan Cabaye have Newcastle had a player of this ilk and quality and it is a major coup to have completed this deal.
But doing so now shows what Newcastle promise to be in the future. There have been frustrations in their pursuits of star names, particular in defence with Lille and Sevilla holding firm on Sven Botman and Diego Carlos. Ghe signing of striker Chris Wood may be of more immediate necessity but, just as with Kieran Trippier, there is a real chance for Newcastle to grow with Bruno Guimaraes if and when the relegation question is put to bed.
Throughout their early reign as owners, the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund, Amanda Staveley, Mehrdad Ghodoussi and Jamie Reuben have been reminded how difficult it will be to attract top players. Reasons for that have varied. From the obvious, such as their proximity in the league and the length of time it could take for Newcastle to reach the required level to the weather in the city, but signing a player of Guimaraes’ ability at this stage given all the issues they face, could be quite ominous for potential rivals.
The impact still has to be there. Results are not just needed but expected and the quicker the better. But for all the difficulty faced and roadblocks met, Newcastle ended the transfer window with a flourish and, in their new Brazilian midfielder, they have a player who can embody their growth into a new era.
You could earn up to £10 (or currency equivalent) in bonus funds by joining Colossus with our New Player Bonus. Click here to join the action.