Wijnaldum signing raises Newcastle expectations

The Netherlands international arrives in the north-east with expectations high he can replace Kevin Keegan as the new ‘saviour’ of the club after a dreadful 2014/15 season.

Owner Mike Ashley was under pressure to spend money on the squad after keeping a tight grip on the purse strings recently and nearly dropping out of the top flight as a result.

At £14.5million, Wijnaldum comes in at just under £500,000 less than Newcastle forked out to bring prodigal son Alan Shearer back to St James’ Park in 1996.

While Shearer arrived on Tyneside having a proven track record of Premier League success, Wijnaldum has yet to prove he can cut the mustard outside of his native Holland.

The 24-year-old did enjoy a stellar campaign for PSV Eindhoven last season though, picking up the Eredivisie Player of the Season award after leading the Light Bulbs to the Dutch championship.

The attacking midfielder collected the end-of-season gong ahead of the much heralded Memphis Depay, who has also been tipped to make a big impact in the Premier League this term after joining Manchester United.

Previous winners of the Eredivisie Player of the Year gong include Luis Suarez, Wilfried Bony and Jaap Stam, who all impressed after making the switch to England.

Middlesbrough flop Alfonso Alves also collected the award in 2007, meaning it is not always a good indicator of a Premier League star in waiting but more often than not they have come good.

Wijnaldum has all the skills needed to make a successful transition from the Eredivisie, the former Feyenoord youngster has pace to burn and plenty of trickier to go with his rapid acceleration.

The likes of Theo Walcott, Jesus Navas and Raheem Sterling look likely to have a rival when it comes to the quickest player in the Premier League this season, Wijnaldum having terrorised defences in Holland with his ability to ghost past players.

The Dutchman also has an eye for goal, netting 14 times last term, which will be music to Steve McClaren’s ears given the lack of goals in his squad, the Toon scoring 40 times in total in the top flight last season.

Wijnaldum has been tipped to inspire his new team mates on and off the pitch having been handed the PSV captaincy at the age of just 22, leading them to a first Eredivisie title since 2008 last season.

Wijnaldum has had to grow up fast after making his debut as a 16-year-old for Feyenoord and claims to be ready to take the next step.

However, the weight of expectation at Newcastle is unlike any burden the talented winger has experienced before, while he is likely to be under the microscope constantly given the price the club have paid for him.

Boss McClaren has done little to dampen the expectations Wijnaldum can single handily turn the Magpies around, claiming the aim for this season is to end the club’s 46-year wait for a trophy and finish in the top eight.

While the signing of Wijnaldum is a step in the right direction, he will not be able to do it all himself and Ashley will have to stick his hand in his pocket a few more times before the Toon can be considered serious contenders for silverware.

McClaren, Wijnaldum and any other new arrivals will be offered a modicum of time to settle but in general patience is weighing extremely thin at St James’ Park and it will only take a poor start to ruin all the optimism built up by Newcastle’s most exciting signing in a decade.