Mike Ashley’s 14-year reign at St. James’ Park came to an end last year as Saudi Arabian consortium PIF completed their takeover of Newcastle United in October.
One of their first acts on Tyneside was to remove Steve Bruce from his post as manager and they eventually appointed Eddie Howe to replace the now out-of-contract coach.
Bruce had his ups and downs during his time at the club and some of his decisions, aided by Ashley, are still causing problems at Newcastle to date.
One signing the former Toon manager made that is still hurting the Magpies is left-back Jamal Lewis. He was brought in from Norwich for a reported fee of £15m in the summer of 2020 and has struggled to make a positive impact on the pitch in just over two years.
The defender played 24 games in his first season for Newcastle and averaged a dismal SofaScore rating of 6.48 – placing him 26th in the squad. He then played five Premier League matches for Bruce and Howe combined in the first half of the 2021/22 campaign as he fell out of favour.
The full-back reportedly rejected loan offers from Birmingham and Stoke in the Championship on deadline day before being axed from the club’s squad for the second half of the season, as he was deemed surplus to requirements.
Former Premier League goalkeeper Paddy Kenny questioned his decision to turn down those moves at the time, speaking to Football Insider: “Personally, if it was me, I would want to go out and get some game time.
“It’s that or I’m not playing. It’s not like you can be back in if there are a few injuries.
“You literally can’t play. It’s a big decision to make. It’s really strange. He will just be training every day for the next four months or so. That helps no one.”
Multiple sources state that his wages are £38k-per-week and this means that the defender is earning around £2m per year at St. James’ Park, which means that Newcastle could have saved roughly £1m if he had moved on loan for the second half of last season and Stoke or Birmingham covered all of his wages.
Instead, he rejected those loan offers and cashed in on £2m in wages in 2021/22 whilst playing five league matches in total, after raking in £2m in his first season. This means that he has cost the club a staggering £19m to date – including the initial £15m fee – and that figure will only rise between now and January, with Newcastle paying him roughly £500k since the start of July for this season so far.
Lewis has played 11 minutes of football in the Premier League this term and, based on Howe’s previous selections and the defender’s poor form in his last extended run of games, it seems unlikely that he will break into the starting XI any time soon.
Therefore, unless he leaves in January, he will have rinsed Newcastle for £21m by the end of this season without contributing quality performances, or many performances, on the pitch in that time.
He has been a poor signing to date and PIF are still being rinsed by his wages every month because of Bruce’s decision to bring him to Tyneside in 2020.