By Damian Spellman, PA
Newcastle boss Eddie Howe has insisted the process of signing players is the same whether he is shopping in the bargain basement or at top-end stores.
The Magpies smashed their record transfer fee on Friday when they clinched a deal understood to amount to £58million for Real Sociedad’s 22-year-old Sweden international striker Alexander Isak, in the process taking their spending since the club’s new owners took up the reins to around £210million.
It is all a far cry from Howe’s early days at Bournemouth, when he operated on a shoestring budget and had to develop the players he already had, but he is adamant he still goes about recruitment in the same way.
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Asked about the contrast, the 44-year-old said: “I feel exactly the same, to be honest.
“In my early days, we were looking at free transfers, out-of-contract players, but you are still trying to find the right fit for your team. You’re trying to find the right characters that will benefit the group. Then you have to mould those players around the team.
“It doesn’t change, the process is exactly the same. What does change is the perception of everyone else because you’re outlaying a big sum of money for a player, but the process does not change.
“You still have to find the right player and you have to visualise that player in your team, performing well and what he will bring.
“So the money, really, is irrelevant. It’s the media spotlight that is the big difference.”
Isak, the club’s fourth summer acquisition after Matt Targett, Nick Pope and Sven Botman, could get his first chance to impress at Wolves on Sunday with Callum Wilson in the treatment room once again.
His fee dwarfs the £40million Newcastle paid Hoffenheim for Joelinton during the summer of 2019 and, while Howe admits a measure of discomfort at the ever-escalating transfer market, he will not spend for spending’s sake.
Asked if Isak’s price tag represented value for money, he said: “I definitely feel a responsibility to the price, it certainly wouldn’t be a case of signing a player at any cost. I don’t think that’s the right way to act.
“It’s an incredible market and I could never sit and say I think it’s value for money just with the price. But when you look at the market, I think it’s a good deal for us, otherwise I wouldn’t have been pushing hard to try to do it.
“Transfer prices are out of any type of realism from when I was playing, but you just have to adapt to the times. If you don’t adapt to the times and go with it, then you don’t improve.”