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Newcastle: Mike Ashley had a mare with the signing of Henri Saivet

A group of Newcastle United supporters gathered outside of St. James’ Park in October of last year to celebrate PIF’s official takeover of the club.

The Saudi Arabian consortium took control of the Magpies and that put to an end Sports Direct supremo Mike Ashley’s 14-year stint on Tyneside.

It was the start of a new era at the club and the end of one that some fans, like the ones who celebrated on that day, may want to forget.

Ashley endured some rough moments during his tenure at Newcastle and many of those were because of his failures in the transfer market.

One player the Englishman had a nightmare with was the signing of French central midfielder Henri Saivet from Ligue 1 Bordeaux in January 2016 for a fee in the region of £5m.

He was given a five-and-a-half-year deal by the Magpies owner and then-manager Steve McClaren hailed the player, saying: “Henri is someone the club have been watching for a while and he has developed into an excellent player at Bordeaux.”

The Frenchman played in four of the first five Premier League matches the club competed in after arriving in England but then found himself on the bench for the remainder of the campaign. He was an unused substitute in six fixtures and failed to make the squad in seven after those four initial appearances.

Newcastle then decided to loan him out to Saint-Etienne, Sivasspor, and Bursaspor in the subsequent campaigns, although he did play in one Premier League game – and scored – in the 2017/18 season.

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By the end of his Toon career, Saivet claimed that the club had taken his “passion” away from him by excluding him from first-team training or forcing him to play in defence in sessions.

In the 2019/20 and 2020/21 campaigns, the midfielder, who Lee Ryder dubbed a St. James’ Park “flop“, did not go out on loan or play a single senior match for the club – playing four times for the U23s in those two years.

He then left in the summer of 2021 on a free transfer upon the expiry of his contract that he was given by Ashley in January 2016. This meant that he spent over five years on Tyneside and only made eight first-team appearances in all competitions, costing the initial £5m in transfer fees plus his weekly salary of £35k.

Therefore, Ashley evidently made a mistake with the signing of Saivet as he cost the club millions throughout his spell in England and gave little back to the team on the pitch with his limited, putting it lightly, minutes.