Newcastle have been pretty inactive in the transfer window so far. They’ve secured Hatem Ben Arfa on a permanent deal and Stephen Ireland may be arriving from Aston Villa on loan, but perhaps the most important thing is that they’ve kept hold of their key assets to date. At the start of the window Andy Carroll was linked to Tottenham and Chelsea but he looks destined to stay at St James’ Park, but could another Newcastle striker be on the way out? Somewhat surprisingly SkySports.com reported yesterday that Birmingham City are interested in Shola Ameobi and that the Magpies have rejected a bid. However, would Newcastle be better served to take the money and run?
Shola Ameobi is a much-maligned figure at Newcastle. A number of fans would be only too happy to see the back of him and while there are those that see what he has to offer the team, which includes me, you’d still be hard-pressed to find anyone who thinks he’s worthy of a permanent place in the Newcastle starting XI. When Andy Carroll returns from injury he’ll be straight back in the team and Alan Pardew is likely to partner him with Ameobi. However, if Newcastle have ambitions to progress in the Premier League then the likes of Ameobi can only be squad players at best. It may be harsh, but I think that’s true.
One thing you can’t deny is that Ameobi has been an excellent servant for the club. After joining the youth set up in the north east in 1995, Ameobi made his first senior start for Newcastle in 2000 and in the ten years since has racked up close to 300 appearances for the Toon. He’s scored 68 goals in all competitions over that time, with this season being largely reflective of a career in which he’s been far from prolific, scoring 4 times in 18 games. Those goals have come solely against Wigan and Sunderland, the latter of which will ensure that he’s always got a place in the hearts of Newcastle fans. There isn’t room for emotion in football though I’m afraid; it’s a cut-throat business.
While Ameobi helped Newcastle to thrash Sunderland 5-1 at St James’ Park, he also spurned a couple of great chances to put the return match at the Stadium of Light to bed. He also missed a great headed chance against Wigan before eventually getting the winner at the DW Stadium. You can’t exactly call Ameobi clinical in front of goal, and he’ll never get you 20 goals a season in the Premier League. This has much do to with his poor injury record, too. Ameobi has been blighted by injuries over the years, and when added to his profligacy in front of goal, is unlikely to ever cement his place in the team.
Despite that, Ameobi will always be an excellent squad player. Injuries and finishing ability aside, you can never question his commitment. The one thing we don’t know about Birmingham’s bid is the size of it either. I can’t see it being more than a couple of million and for that reason Newcastle have little to gain by selling Ameobi. So Newcastle would be well advised to keep hold of the striker, something they seem keen to do after rebuffing the Blues’ original bid, as his value to the team is considerably greater than the amount of money that Newcastle can recoup financially.