Newcastle United were never afraid of splashing the cash on a player prior to the Ashley-era. Successful signings such as Alan Shearer, however, were sadly a minority in the grand scale of things. Following on from part one, where we looked at youngsters and promising players, we take a further look - including signings made for the first team. First up, is Alessandro Pistone. He arrived at 22 years old in July 1997 for £4.5m from Internazionale, which was not a small fee for the time. 28 games in his first season under Kenny Dalglish, including starting the 1999 FA cup final loss to Arsenal, had many praising the Italian. He looked a solid player but was unfortunately subjected to the same mind-boggling exclusions, along with Rob Lee, during the Ruud 'Sexy Football' Gullit year. Once Gullit was rightly sacked, Sir Bobby Robson restored him to the first team. He scored one league goal against Boro in a derby 2000, before being sold to Everton for £3m. Here his career sadly curtailed after 7 years of injuries resulting in Pistone being offered a pay as you play type deal. He left Everton as a free agent to have unsuccessful trials with Southgate's Boro and Boothroyd's Watford. He then spent 2007/08 in Belgium with RAEC Mons,which proved to be his final year in football. Following this, Pistone coached in the 5th tier of Italian football unsuccessfully and has been seen playing professional poker. He also owns and runs his own restaurant in Piacenza, Italy. Fond memories or another one we could have done without?
Next up, James Tavernier. Another promising youngster snatched from the Leeds United academy, Tavernier had many suitors before signing for Newcastle. As did Adam Campbell from part one of this series, Tavernier spent most of his time at Newcastle on loan at local clubs Gateshead and Carlisle before a very successful loan at Rotherham United in 2013-14. This prompted Wigan Athletic to sign him from Newcastle for an undisclosed fee (the Ashley era!) in 2014. An uninspiring year in Wigan resulted in half of it spent on loan at Bristol City before Tavernier and teammate Martyn Waghorn both signed for Glasgow Rangers. Helping Rangers recover and return to the SPL, Tavernier has went on to become one of their most important players - 116 games with 22 goals from defence. Steven Gerrard made him captain ahead of the 2019/19 season, scoring in the first game wearing the armband. Is James one that got away?
Finally, Geremi. Signed by Sam Allardyce, ex-England gaffer and recently self-proclaimed man of integrity, in 2007 on a three year deal at 29 years old. Once a Ballon D'or nominee with Real Madrid, Geremi was given the captain's armband and then partnered in midfield with Nicky Butt - something that may forever haunt Newcastle fans.
After returning from the ACoN in 2008, Geremi failed to reproduce performances we seen at Chelsea. His minutes per game dwindled and, following the arrival of Kevin Keegan, lost the captains armband to Michael Owen. Making only 11 appearances, Geremi made even fewer the following year (2009-10) - 3 starts in 5 months. You may remember, in 2010 he went on to make a farce of a move to Turkish club MKE Ankaragücü - Geremi was shown holding the shirt etc. Newcastle confirmed the deal was not complete before it collapsed spectacularly with Geremi returning to the club, before eventually signing for Ankaragücü on deadline day. He has never really been heard of since. An absolute disaster of a signing in my opinion, happy to take his money for very little return and save himself physically for Cameroon. Your thoughts?
Thanks for reading - more to come. Follow me on twitter @WillRichardson7.