Kylian Mbappe, Gareth Bale, Edinson Cavani, Kai Havertz, Donny van de Beek, Kalidou Koulibaly, Philippe Coutinho...
Not long ago, this was the shopping list being engraved onto a solid gold bar while Steve Bruce was cruising across the Tyne Bridge in the back of his prospective new owners' Rolls-Royce.
Fast forward just a few weeks, and free Jeff Hendrick is set to be joined by fellow won't-cost-a-transfer-fee star Ryan Fraser, along with relegated duo Jamal Lewis and Callum Wilson. Quite a glaring disparity from the aforementioned headline-grabbers.
Despite Newcastle supporters still reeling from the failed takeover of some morally questionable multi-millionaires, this is (whisper it) turning out to be a savvy window of business up in the north east. Really, it is.
In order for the above statement to ring true, all the Mbappe chat needs to be cast aside. Ginormous financial injection or not, he, and many others, weren't going to swap the Champions League for a good chippy.
So let's banish those thoughts and move onto the cold, hard facts. Those being that Newcastle are investing very well this window, and should be earning praise for it. Hence why we're here.
As of yet, Lewis, Wilson and Fraser aren't officially Toon players, but their imminent arrivals will be classed as such anyway.
Starting with the obvious, it was imperative that the Magpies sign a striker this summer.
Joelinton is, unequivocally, a bad footballer. Whatever planet he is worth £40m on is one space exploration should strictly avoid. He is bad. Very, very bad. On this occasion, it's one where you hold your hands up and say 'yes, we cocked up'.
Wilson boasts all the traits his soon-to-be Brazilian teammate doesn't. He has pace, awareness, clever running off the ball and plenty of Premier League experience. For cut-price fee of £20m, it's business that should be applauded.
The striker's best goalscoring season in the top flight came in the 2018/19 campaign, where he struck up a fine partnership with none other than Fraser. The Scot scored seven goals and laid on a further 14 to teammates, while Wilson hit 14 goals and set up nine others. They were, that season, one of the most formidable duos in the league.
For £20m, Newcastle look set to get both.
It doesn't require a Master's degree in football analysis to know that the goalscoring department was where Newcastle struggled the most last season. Miguel Almiron and Allan Saint-Maximin are exciting forwards who were left stunted by inadequacies in front of them, therefore the shrewd acquisition of Wilson could help unlock their talents.
Hendrick was another free signing earlier in the window, someone who admittedly won't set the pulses racing, but is familiar in rigid, pragmatic setups akin to the one Bruce likes to employ at St. James' Park. Experienced and disciplined, he offers good cover at the very least in midfield.
More players are rumoured to be on the horizon, but Norwich defender Lewis is closest to walking through the doors. Despite the quite miserable season the Canaries had last term, both their full-backs earned praise for their energy in forward areas. They conceded a lot of goals, yet that responsibility fell mainly on Daniel Farke's lap for his insistence on pushing his full-backs exceedingly high up the pitch.
A full Northern Ireland international with a taste of the top flight, for less than £14m, is another acute addition by Bruce. Given that Liverpool already failed with a bid for Lewis earlier in the window, he is clearly not short of admirers.
Likely to pen a long-term deal, given his age he will be tied down to Newcastle into his mid to late 20s, where if he is to excel as expected, his valuation will sky rocket and leave the Magpies in a position of power. Again, this is smart business. The like we haven't seen on Tyneside for a considerable length of time.
Their 'hit rate', if you like, is truly woeful. Having previously plucked countless (failed) players from Ligue 1, the decision to focus on British soil for those with experience of the league indicates a change of direction from the club, one that it's fair to say is a result of Bruce's appointment.
Of course, the players need to prove their worth and justify the current mood, but all the signs are there that the savvy, stable manner the club are operating in the transfer department will put them in good stead for an improved campaign.
Source : 90min