The Magpies allowed Martin Dubravka to join Manchester United on loan for the remainder of the 2022/23 campaign and have now swooped to bring the German shot-stopper in to provide cover and competition for Nick Pope and Karl Darlow in the Premier League.
He was not the only player the club looked at signing on a free transfer this year, though, as they were previously touted with a move for another out-of-contract gem.
The central defender, who had a spell at Sunderland earlier in his career, was reportedly interested in making the move to Tyneside as he enjoyed living in the area whilst on Wearside.
However, Eddie Howe and Dan Ashworth opted against swooping to snap him up for nothing and he currently remains a free agent, almost two weeks after the window slammed shut.
The club may now live to regret that decision as the Belgian international would be an upgrade on captain Jamaal Lascelles at centre-back.
Although Newcastle have strengthened their options at the back with the signings of Dan Burn and Sven Botman in 2022, the former Nottingham Forest enforcer remains a prominent member of the first-team squad and looks set to play a role on the pitch this season.
Last season, he averaged a SofaScore rating of 6.73 – placing him 16th in the squad – as he struggled to put in strong performances on a consistent basis, losing 66% of his ground duels and only completing 75% of his attempted passes.
Denayer, meanwhile, averaged a score of 6.93 in Ligue 1 – after managing a rating of 6.96 in 2020/21 – as he won a whopping 68% of his battles on the ground and completed an impressive 94% of his attempted passes.
Howe wants his team to be composed on the ball in the build-up play to create attacking opportunities without gifting the ball back to the opposition cheaply. This suggests that the former Lyon man, who was once dubbed “powerful” by Florian Maurice, would be more suited to his tactics than Lascelles because of his far superior ball retention, which could help the team to play out from the back more effectively.
The 27-year-old enforcer’s statistics in Ligue 1 also suggest that he is able to perform to a higher standard week-in-week-out, which is why – alongside his passing ability – he would be an upgrade on the Toon skipper.
Therefore, the club may live to regret their decision not to snap him up for £0, particularly if Lascelles is forced into action for any lengthy spells this season and continues to struggle in the top flight.