In October, Newcastle United were bought by the Saudi Arabian government’s sovereign wealth fund, becoming a soft power apparatus for the nation as they looked to follow in the footsteps of Abu Dhabi with Manchester City and Qatar with Paris Saint-Germain.
Their hopes of using the club to sportswash a dire human rights record, though, require that the club they’ve purchased plays pretty football and accumulates silverware. Getting Newcastle to that point was always going to take some doing—and getting relegated to the Championship could set back their project by a number of years.
Which brings us to January, with Newcastle solidly in the relegation places and in need of a striker with leading scorer Callum Wilson expected out for at least the next two months.
That has Sky today claiming they’re downright desperate to sign one, preferably in time to face Watford—currently just two points ahead of Newcastle in the table—on Saturday, and that Liverpool alternate and cult hero Divock Origi is at or near the top of their list.
Dominic Solanke, Patrick Schick, and Chris Wood are said to be their other options as the once proud north-east outfit scramble to survive 2021-22 and set themselves up for a future of big money transfers and improving Saudi Arabia’s image in the minds of incurious fans around the world who might be tempted to embrace the club.