Ki Sung-yueng was an exceptional free transfer

On the 29th June 2018, Ki signed for Newcastle United on a free transfer from Swansea City. There was a concern at the time from Newcastle's fans that he was signed because this had again shown that Mike Ashley was unwilling to release transfer funds. The fans weren't wrong, it did mean that, but Benitez pulled another rabbit out of the hat, by getting Ki to sign on a free transfer. 

A super free signing

I remember at the start of the season when Ki signed for Newcastle on a free transfer, there was a lot of concern from fans stating this had again shown that Mike Ashley wasn't willing to spend money, lowering the quality of signings. This is factually true, Mike Ashley isn't willing to spend any money at all although what the fans didn't realise at the time is that didn't mean Ki was a poor signing.

Newcastle is obviously quite limited to what players they can attract with Mike Ashley in charge of the club and not being willing to sanction some decent transfer wedge, therefore Ki was one of the best free signings Newcastle could have attracted. After a slow start, Ki definitely won over Newcastle fans with his composed displays, he always has loads of space and time on the ball in a majority of situations on the pitch. His passing is great too, he is a bit one-paced at times, but I am sure Newcastle's management knew about that before they signed him.

Ki has done brilliantly for Newcastle in centre midfield, that he managed to keep Jonjo Shelvey out of the squad when he regained his fitness and after Longstaff got injured. This was very unexpected when Ki first signed, but Ki's displays have won over Newcastle's fans and a lot of the support was pleased with the ex South Korea captain.

Ki played more than I expected

Once Ki got himself into Newcastle's first team, he managed to hold down his position. Since he won that starting spot, he has rarely found himself outside of the first team, and if he has been left out of the starting 11 he has been named on the bench often and is one of the players Rafa looked to first when making a sub.

I originally thought that Rafa likely signed Ki to be Jonjo Shelvey's backup, basically because Ki has a great range of passing that you're unlikely to get from any other free transfer (that Newcastle would be able to attract/persuade to join them). Therefore, he would become an ideal replacement for Jonjo, but once handed his chance, he grasped it. His quality has really shone through this season, and he has shown why he has so many caps for South Korea, while also being their captain before he decided to retire from international football.

I personally hope Ki remains with us for another season, because I have been impressed with his professionalism and ability once he got himself into the first team. He seems like a brilliant player to have around the squad, and someone a lot of other teams would want if Newcastle decides to get rid over the summer, which I hope they don't.

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