Signing a new striker for Newcastle United was always going to be a priority for Dan Ashworth this summer, especially after Callum Wilson’s injury.
The Toon were heavily linked with a move for Watford’s Joao Pedro before seeing a move collapse but that may have been a blessing in disguise for Eddie Howe, as it paved the way for the signing of Alexander Isak.
Newcastle reportedly saw a £25m bid for the Brazilian rejected, with Pedro later affirming his commitment to Watford on deadline day as he looks to help the Hornets earn promotion back to the top flight.
That decision forced Ashworth to look elsewhere and he worked quickly to bring in Isak from Real Sociedad in a club-record deal worth £63m, with the Swede reportedly rejecting Manchester United in order to seal a move to St James’ Park.
The Sweden international made a memorable start to his Newcastle career, scoring on his debut in Wednesday’s 2-1 defeat against Liverpool, while the new £120k-per-week earner also saw another effort ruled out for a narrow offside.
It was a remarkable first outing for the Swede who showed great composure before thundering the ball home for his opening Toon goal. He then showed fancy footwork in the second half, putting two Liverpool players on the floor before firing the ball into the back of the net.
He celebrated with the swagger of Thierry Henry or Cristiano Ronaldo but unfortunately, the linesman ruled it out.
If offered an early glimpse of what he could bring to the northeast and if he continues like that, memories of a move for the Watford man will swiftly fade.
Indeed, while Pedro has started this season in impressive form, contributing two goals and two assists in six Championship appearances thus far, he would manage just three goals in the Premier League last season, and at just 20, he might have been a risky signing for Howe.
Isak, meanwhile, hit a combined 23 goals in his last two La Liga campaigns so has pedigree in one of Europe’s top leagues. Meanwhile, he also caught the eye for Sweden at the European Championships last summer, with Gary Lineker dubbing him an “exceptional talent.”
Therefore, it seems clear that Isak was the better purchase for Newcastle in this transfer window. If he continues to perform as he did at Anfield earlier this week, then his signing could well go down as another masterclass by Ashworth who already looks as if he’s struck gold at St James’.