The 11 worst Newcastle United players of the 21st century - including ex-Arsenal and Rangers talents

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Newcastle United haven't always been shrewd operators and the transfer market - and this £75m team shows how.

Newcastle United's march from relegation candidates and a harrowing dip into the Championship, to taking on AC Milan and Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League has been fuelled by clever coaching and impressive recruitment.

Manager Eddie Howe has brought the best out of a several players he inherited from predecessor Steve Bruce after coaxing serious improvement out of the likes of Joelinton, Fabian Schar, Sean Longstaff and Jacob Murphy.

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And the United boss has also been helped by the arrival of some eye-catching additions such as Sven Botman, Kieran Trippier and the influential Bruno Guimaraes, who has quickly become an integral figure in the Magpies setup.

Yet Newcastle have not always been shrewd operators in the transfer market and the Magpies have been a whole host of questionable signings since the turn of the century. Here's our team made up of some of Newcastle's poorest signings since 2000 and some players Magpies supporters would rather forget.

GK: Matz Sels

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Signed by Rafa Benitez during the summer of 2016 as the Magpies prepared for life in the Championship, the Belgian stopper always felt an unnecessary addition given the presence of Karl Darlow, Rob Elliot and Tim Krul in the United squad. Sels made 14 appearances during what would be a successful push to return to the Premier League - but it was Darlow that would be first-choice for the majority of the season.

RB: Jesus Gamez

Jesus Gamez in action for Newcastle United (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)Jesus Gamez in action for Newcastle United (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)
Jesus Gamez in action for Newcastle United (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images) | Getty Images

Another Benitez addition ahead of that Championship season and another signing that didn't quite work out at St. James' Park. The Spanish full-back was expected to bring nous and experience to the Magpies defence but never really seemed to settle. Injuries led to Gamez making just four appearances during his first season on Tyneside and that was stretched to seven by the time he departed the club two years later.

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CB: Sol Campbell

Campbell will go down as one of England’s finest defenders, however, his time at Newcastle United will not be remembered too fondly. After a very brief stint at Notts County, Campbell joined the Magpies in 2010 and made eight appearances in the league before retiring from football after a very forgettable spell.Campbell will go down as one of England’s finest defenders, however, his time at Newcastle United will not be remembered too fondly. After a very brief stint at Notts County, Campbell joined the Magpies in 2010 and made eight appearances in the league before retiring from football after a very forgettable spell.
Campbell will go down as one of England’s finest defenders, however, his time at Newcastle United will not be remembered too fondly. After a very brief stint at Notts County, Campbell joined the Magpies in 2010 and made eight appearances in the league before retiring from football after a very forgettable spell. | Getty Images

Hands up who thought this was a shrewd addition at the time? A Chris Hughton signing, Campbell looked set to play a lead role in the Magpies return to the Premier League in 2010 but a lack of fitness and some abysmal performances when he returned to contention limited his appearances to just eight by the time he departed just a year after his arrival.

CB: Jean-Alain Boumsong

Sold to Newcastle Utd, January 2005
Fee: £8mSold to Newcastle Utd, January 2005
Fee: £8m
Sold to Newcastle Utd, January 2005 Fee: £8m | Getty Images

Newcastle could have signed Boumsong on a free transfer during the summer of 2004 but Sir Bobby Robson opted against such a move. His successor Graeme Souness had no such issues as he handed over £8m to sign the French defender after he had spent the first half of the season with Rangers. There were one or two performances that hinted at a competent defender - but more often than not, Boumsong was haphazard and quite simply just not good enough.

LB: Achraf Lazaar

Former Newcastle United left-back Achraf Lazaar. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)Former Newcastle United left-back Achraf Lazaar. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)
Former Newcastle United left-back Achraf Lazaar. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images) | Getty Images

A third Benitez addition of this eleven as the Spaniard persuaded Lazaar to swap life in Serie A with Palermo to be part of a Newcastle squad fighting for an immediate return to the Premier League. Never looked the part, showed very little quality and ultimately will almost be a forgotten man in the club's recent history.

RM: Remy Cabella

Cabella joined Newcastle ahead of the 2014/15 season as the club tried to recapture their ‘French revolution’ successes of a few years previous. However, he would score just one Premier League goal during his time on Tyneside before moving to Marseille on-loan in summer 2015.Cabella joined Newcastle ahead of the 2014/15 season as the club tried to recapture their ‘French revolution’ successes of a few years previous. However, he would score just one Premier League goal during his time on Tyneside before moving to Marseille on-loan in summer 2015.
Cabella joined Newcastle ahead of the 2014/15 season as the club tried to recapture their ‘French revolution’ successes of a few years previous. However, he would score just one Premier League goal during his time on Tyneside before moving to Marseille on-loan in summer 2015. | Getty Images

An Alan Pardew signing as Newcastle's love of French players led them to hand over around £13m to sign Cabella from Montpellier. He never looked as if he was going to match the achievements of the likes of Yohan Cabaye and Hatem Ben Arfa and had scored just one goal and provided just two assists in 34 appearances in all competitions by the time he left for Marseille two years after his arrival.

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CM: Siem de Jong

Former Newcastle United midfielder Siem de Jong.Former Newcastle United midfielder Siem de Jong.
Former Newcastle United midfielder Siem de Jong. | Getty Images

This looked to be something of a masterstroke after the talented attacking midfielder has helped Ajax to an impressive win at Manchester City before his arrival at St. James' Park. But injuries and inconsistency hampered his attempts to make an impression on Tyneside and De Jong left three years after his arrival with just 26 appearances and two goals to his name.

CM: Henri Saivet

Saivet joined Newcastle in January 2016 and played eight times for the club before being released in summer 2021. His finest moment came against West Ham in 2017 when he netted a free-kick during Newcastle’s 3-2 win at the London Stadium.Saivet joined Newcastle in January 2016 and played eight times for the club before being released in summer 2021. His finest moment came against West Ham in 2017 when he netted a free-kick during Newcastle’s 3-2 win at the London Stadium.
Saivet joined Newcastle in January 2016 and played eight times for the club before being released in summer 2021. His finest moment came against West Ham in 2017 when he netted a free-kick during Newcastle’s 3-2 win at the London Stadium. | Getty Images

To players of Football Manager, Saivet will be something of a legend. However, his on-field ability never quite matched that of the virtual world and the French midfielder remains one of the most questionable signings in the Magpies recent history. Remarkably, he was officially a United player for five years - but he made just eight appearances during that time.

LM: Florian Thauvin

Thauvin was just never able to adapt to the demands of Premier League football. The talent was there, as shown by his form for Marseille after he left the club - one that earned him a World Cup Winner’s medal. However, he just didn’t live up to the hype at Newcastle.Thauvin was just never able to adapt to the demands of Premier League football. The talent was there, as shown by his form for Marseille after he left the club - one that earned him a World Cup Winner’s medal. However, he just didn’t live up to the hype at Newcastle.
Thauvin was just never able to adapt to the demands of Premier League football. The talent was there, as shown by his form for Marseille after he left the club - one that earned him a World Cup Winner’s medal. However, he just didn’t live up to the hype at Newcastle. | Getty Images

Another player that came as part of United's ongoing obsession with French players. Much like Cabella, Thauvin, for all of his talent, showed very little to prove that he was worth the £13m paid for him. The high points - and many would argue only positive appearance - came with three assists and a goal in a 4-1 win over Northampton Town in a League Cup tie - but they would go down as Thauvin's only goal contributions of his time as a Magpie.

ST: Manu Riviere

After impressing at Monaco in Falcao’s absence, Riviere was signed by Newcastle to spearhead their attack. Two seasons at the club elicited just three goals, two of which came against Crystal Palace in the EFL Cup whilst the other was a deflected effort off his own standing leg against QPR during the end of John Carver’s time as interim manager.After impressing at Monaco in Falcao’s absence, Riviere was signed by Newcastle to spearhead their attack. Two seasons at the club elicited just three goals, two of which came against Crystal Palace in the EFL Cup whilst the other was a deflected effort off his own standing leg against QPR during the end of John Carver’s time as interim manager.
After impressing at Monaco in Falcao’s absence, Riviere was signed by Newcastle to spearhead their attack. Two seasons at the club elicited just three goals, two of which came against Crystal Palace in the EFL Cup whilst the other was a deflected effort off his own standing leg against QPR during the end of John Carver’s time as interim manager. | Getty Images

One of many confusing signings made in a period where the Magpies moved away from what seemed a sound recruitment programme and implemented a somewhat scatter-gun approach. After a rather modest return of 17 goals in 50 appearances for Monaco, Riviere moved to St. James' Park in a £5m deal and scored just three goals in 31 games as he looked ill-fitted for life in the Premier League.

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ST: Michael Owen

Owen’s time at Newcastle United was simply disastrous. His goals to games record may not be too bad, however, he simply wasn’t fit for long enough during his time at the club and he was unable to help them survive relegation as the end of his time on Tyneside approached. Owen’s time at Newcastle United was simply disastrous. His goals to games record may not be too bad, however, he simply wasn’t fit for long enough during his time at the club and he was unable to help them survive relegation as the end of his time on Tyneside approached.
Owen’s time at Newcastle United was simply disastrous. His goals to games record may not be too bad, however, he simply wasn’t fit for long enough during his time at the club and he was unable to help them survive relegation as the end of his time on Tyneside approached. | Getty Images

Now, by no means is Owen the worst player to play for Newcastle during the last 23 years, far from it. At his peak, he was one of the best strikers in world football and was unplayable on his day. Even during his time on Tyneside, the former England captain produced some outstanding moments, particularly during Kevin Keegan's ill-fated second spell in charge when a brace in a win against Sunderland seemed to bring warmth between player and supporters.

But United's desperation to make a landmark signing and add a striker to a squad desperately in need led to a questionable decision to hand over £17m to see off competition from Liverpool for Owen. The striker never hid from his desire to return to Merseyside and always seemed to prioritise playing for England ahead of his club. Part of the Magpies squad relegated in 2009, Owen will go down as one of the most disappointing signings of the club's recent history.

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