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Newcastle: Mike Ashley had a nightmare with signing of Xisco

Mike Ashley ended his 14-year-long reign as owner of Newcastle United last year as Saudi Arabian consortium PIF completed their takeover of the club in 2021.

The Sports Direct supremo went through highs and lows during his tenure at St. James’ Park and his work in the transfer market yielded plenty of successes and failures, with various managers.

Ashley was no stranger to signing flops in his many transfer windows in charge of the Magpies and PIF may well come to learn their own harsh lessons as years go by.

One player the ex-Newcastle owner had a nightmare with was centre-forward Xisco, who he signed for manager Kevin Keegan in the summer of 2008.

The striker was brought in for a reported fee of £5.7m after scoring nine goals in 25 La Liga appearances for Deportivo de La Coruna in his home country. He had found the back of the net 18 times in 75 outings for the Spanish outfit but Keegan later revealed, in his autobiography, that he had never seen the attacker play, stating:

“It wasn’t Mike’s beer-guzzling that upset me that day. It was the fact that Tony Jimenez, the executive who had been put in charge of Newcastle’s transfer business, had informed me we were spending £5.7million on a Spanish player called Xisco whom nobody from the club had ever seen play.”

Ashley had been pictured drinking alcohol with fans in the stands but the ex-Magpies boss was more frustrated with the owner’s appointment of Jimenez and the subsequent shocking transfer decisions that came with it.

Xisco ended up scoring once in seven Premier League matches and 11 games in all competitions for Newcastle in his four-and-a-half years on Tyneside, in which he spent the majority of the time out on loan at Racing and then his former side Deportivo.

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The Chronicle’s Lee Ryder described him as a “flop” and the club’s decision to release him on a free transfer in January 2013 confirmed that once and for all, as he left with one competitive goal in over four years and the Magpies did not see a penny of the £5.7m they initially paid for him back in return for his exit.

Ashley and Jimenez clearly had a nightmare by signing him, given the circumstances of the deal and his lack of quality on the pitch, and PIF will be hoping that they can avoid any similar blunders during their time at the club.