On 7 October 2021, after 14 years of tumultuous ownership under Mike Ashley, Newcastle United was finally purchased by the Saudi Arabia Public Investment Fund, the consortium that makes purchases on behalf of the Saudi government. Although some fans were troubled by the ethical issues posed by the Saudi government’s human rights record, for the most part the Toon Army’s mouths were watering at the prospect of big spending following so many years of Ashley’s tight purse strings.
Why? Because with the a stroke of a pen, the sale to the Saudis instantly made Newcastle the world’s richest football club. How? Well, we’re talking about the Saudi royal family here (including Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, notorious for his suspected responsibility for the Jamal Kashoggi assassination). These men are among the wealthiest world leaders on the planet. To appreciate the kind of buying power at their disposal, have a look at this table of the richest football club owners in the world (courtesy of The Sun):
Your eyes do not deceive: Newcastle’s new owners are worth more than 10 times as much as second-place Sheikh Mansoor, owner of Manchester City. Think Paris Saint-Germain’s owners have spent lavishly over the last decade? The Saudi group is worth almost 50 times more than Nasser Al-Khelaifi.
That kind of juice, and a willingness to spend it, is why the Toon couldn’t wait for the January transfer window to open. And sure enough, on 7 January the new ownership group announced its first purchase, signing Kieran Trippier from Atletico Madrid on a 2.5 year contract for a fee of £12M plus add-ons. Good business? Let’s have a look.
Born 19 September 1990 in Bury, Greater Manchester, Trippier joined Manchester City’s youth system at the age of nine. Although he ascended through the ranks and signed his first professional contract in 2007, he was never able to break into the first team. In 2011, City sent him to Championship side Burnley on a season-long loan that was made permanent halfway through the campaign. He thrived at Turf Moor and was named to the Championship PFA Team of the Year for two consecutive seasons, the second of which saw Burnley promoted to the Prem.
The Clarets rewarded Trippier with an improved three-year contract, but a year later he signed for Tottenham for a fee of £3.5M. He was expected to provide competition for Kyle Walker, but was eased into the side slowly and did not make a start until after Christmas. Trippier ultimately became Mauricio Pochettino’s first-choice right back after Walker moved to Manchester City in the summer of 2017. However, the acquisition of Serge Aurier combined with a series of injuries and defensive errors (including a famous own-goal against Chelsea) culminated in Trippier’s transfer to Atletico Madrid for £20M plus add-ons after the conclusion of the 2018-19 campaign.
Trippier enjoyed a successful tour of duty in Spain, even helping Atlético win the La Liga trophy in dramatic fashion on the final day of last season. But one of the Saudis’ first acts as owners of Newcastle was to replace Steve Bruce with Eddie Howe, who had managed Trippier while both were at Burnley. The new gaffer identified Trippier as a transfer target, and when Trippier learned that Newcastle had its eye on him he was eager to link up with his former coach:
“I really enjoyed my time in Madrid, but when I became aware of interest from Newcastle United, and having worked with Eddie Howe before, I knew this was where I wanted to be.”
How Will Trippier Fit In At Newcastle?
A right-footed right back, Trippier’s abilities going forward mean he can also play as a wingback or even as a right-sided midfielder. Such are his talents at delivering sumptuous crosses from open play, and at dead-ball deliveries from set-pieces, that former Three Lions goalkeeper Rob Green has compared him to David Beckham. Never were his skills and abilities on better display than in England’s 2018 World Cup run:
Indeed, Trippier has been a key player for Gareth Southgate’s England squad for years, starting ahead of Trent Alexander-Arnold in the 2018 World Cup semifinal and keeping Reece James on the bench in the Euro 2020 trophy match. Who can forget this stunner to open the scoring in England’s World Cup semifinal?
Or this assist for Luke Shaw’s goal in the Euro 2020 final?
But of course Trippier has been a strong performer for club as well as country, and here’s a sampler platter of what Howe and the Magpies can expect from him:
In addition to his considerable talents on the pitch, Trippier will lend experience, maturity and leadership to a side that is locked in a life-or-death struggle for Premier League survival, the 31 year-old international having won a La Liga title and played in a Champions League final, a Euros final, and a World Cup semifinal.
Any doubts about whether Trippier would be first-choice under Eddie Howe were laid to rest quickly. Signed on 7 January, Trippier made his first start for Newcastle the very next day, lining up at right back in the shock FA Cup defeat at the hands of League One side Cambridge United. But despite the fact that it was literally Trippier’s first day on the job, he was still the Magpies’ best player. True Faith gave him a higher rating than any other Newcastle player and summed up his performance this way:
So much better than the rest. Looked great in the first 5, phased out a bit more later on. Great fight to win the ball and all passes had good direction. Nothing to aim for like everyone else. Assured on the ball otherwise and hopefully hasn’t changed his mind already.
In all honesty, it should come as no surprise that Trippier immediately elbowed Javier Manquillo out of the starting lineup. According to the stats site fbref, Manquillo creates 0.03 assists per 90 minutes. Trippier is more than three times as productive, creating 0.1 assists per 90. That stat not only crushes Manquillo’s, but also ranks Trippier above nearly 70% of all fullbacks in Europe’s top five domestic leagues. Trippier also ranks in the 99th percentile for progressive passing, vs. Manquillo’s 2nd percentile (yup, you read that right). Clearly then, Trippier is a massive upgrade over the man he replaced.
But does that mean he should be in your fantasy sides? Well, not if you are expecting goals from him. Trippier scored just twice in 114 appearances for Spurs, and never rippled the net during his 86-game spell with Atlético. Indeed, even his famous free-kick goal against Croatia was the only time he ever scored in his 35 appearances for the Three Lions.
Assists will probably be a different matter. As described above, Trippier is one of the most creative fullbacks in Europe, and notched 10 helpers in 53 La Liga appearances for Atlético over the two seasons prior to this one. That works out to 445 minutes per assist. That’s exactly the same per-minute assist production that Liverpool star and fantasy favorite Andrew Robertson has generated over the last three domestic campaigns.
For further perspective, here are the figures over the last three seasons for some other prominent Premier League wingbacks and fullbacks.
- Trent Alexander-Arnold: 266 minutes per assist
- Lucas Digne: 504 minutes per assist
- Kieran Tierney: 573 minutes per assist
- Ben Chilwell: 578 minutes per assist
- Reece James: 624 minutes per assist
Importantly on the attacking end, Newcastle has reacted swiftly to the long-term loss of striker Callum Wilson to a calf injury, swooping for Burnley’s Chris Wood for £25M. That means Trippier will have a finisher capable of turning his world-class service into goals. That hasn’t happened yet in any of the three games that Trippier has played for Newcastle across all competitions, meaning Trippier has yet to register an attacking return, but one hopes those will begin to materialize as the player and his target man settle into their new side.
As a defender Trippier is also eligible for clean sheet points, and this is an area that could be a problem. Newcastle has conceded the second-most goals in the Prem, in keeping only two clean sheets all season. Consequently, unless Howe can tighten up at the back, Trippier’s assist potential is probably not enough to make him worth the £5.0M spend in FPL.
But the January window remains open, and Newcastle has been linked to center backs James Tarkowski, Diego Carlos, Pape Abou Cisse, Szalai, and Marcos Senesi, as well as left back Mitchell Bakker and defensive midfielder Yves Bissouma. With Newcastle’s new owners obviously prepared to take aggressive steps to revamp the team’s defensive line, fantasy managers should monitor the club’s transfer activity for squad additions that might improve Trippier’s clean sheet potential. Priced lower than all of the fullbacks/wingbacks I referenced above (except for Tierney, who also costs £5.0M), Trippier could become a solid FPL play if the Magpies can find a way to stop leaking goals.
On the other hand, Trippier is already a screaming bargain in Fantrax. That platform’s more robust scoring system rewards many other things besides goals, assists, and clean sheets, and attacking fullbacks like Trippier often thrive in it. In just his first two league games he accrued five accurate crosses, six tackles won, seven interceptions, five clearances, and two blocked shots. The result was 28 points over two games. Even if we subtract the very rare Newcastle clean sheet against struggling Leeds, Trippier would have generated 11 points in each game.
Currently available at the fire-sale price of just $1, this nailed-on attacking fullback who is eligible for full clean sheet points and takes set pieces should already be in your NMA-11 and NMA-17 sides. Priced like an enabler but producing like a star, he’s a great way to make room in your budget to exploit those double game-weeks that will be coming up!
Stats and info for this article were sourced from en.wikipedia.org, thesun.co.uk, espn.com, m.allfootballapp.com, transfermrt.us, google.com, chroniclelive.co.uk, true-faith.co.uk, fbref.com, fantasyfootballscout.co.uk, and skysports.com.
Is Trippier on your FPL watch list? Do you even have him already (especially in Fantrax where unstable pricing dropped him to $1)? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.
Will you purchase Kieran Trippier for your FPL side?
This poll is closed
Yes, right away
Maybe if Newcastle strengthens its defense
I already have him!
Will you purchase Kieran Trippier for your Fantrax sides?
This poll is closed
Yes, right away
Maybe if Newcastle strengthens its defense
I already have him!