While the Premier League season may not be over just yet, there’s a real argument to be made that Newcastle’s signing of Jeff Hendrick last summer has proven to have been an absolute howler.
The Magpies signed the midfielder back in the summer window on a free transfer after his departure from fellow Premier League side Burnley, and Steve Bruce made it clear just how satisfied he was at pulling off a deal.
Speaking at the announcement of his signing, he said: “I watched him when he was at Derby, then he went to Burnley for a lot of money and (we) couldn’t afford him, so I missed out then!
“He’s an experienced international footballer who can play all across the midfield so we welcome him aboard. He’ll be a big asset to us, on and off the pitch.”
And, after establishing himself as a key part of the starting eleven in the early weeks of the Magpies’ campaign, including scoring on his debut against West Ham, things have just gone downhill for Hendrick.
The Republic of Ireland international has completely fallen out of favour under Bruce, and has not completed the full 90 minutes in the Premier League since the 2-0 win over Everton back in late January.
Since then, Hendrick has spent most of his time on the bench as an unused substitute, and has played just 103 minutes of top-flight football since February 6th.
And, after the Magpies’ defeat to Leeds earlier this year, The Chronicle’s Lee Ryder lambasted him in his player ratings, simply insisting that he “doesn’t seem to be the answer in midfield”.
Dubbed a “liability” by The Northern Echo’s Scott Wilson, the £50k-a-week earning Hendrick just hasn’t justified Bruce’s decision to hand him a big-money contract to sign on as a free agent at St James’ Park.
With just two goals and one assist in 21 games in all competitions for the Magpies this season, the Irishman has shown nothing to really say that Newcastle have even got value for money in paying the midfielder that sizeable wage.
In fact, out of those players who have started more than ten times for Newcastle this season, Hendrick has the lowest average match rating of any player in the entire Magpies squad, as per Whoscored, with just 6.36.
Mike Ashley certainly won’t be happy with how this transfer has played out for Newcastle, given his club have paid a signing fee and given a substantial salary to a player who is seemingly not good enough.