With their yo-yoing in the past 10 years between Premier League relegations and Championship promotions, the arrival of wealthy backers at Newcastle United this season was cause to celebrate on Tyneside.
Should they manage to climb out of the danger zone and stay out of it with a good January transfer window, there was real hope the club could return to being a force to be reckoned with in England’s top-tier.
Back in the early 2000s, that was a role the club were enjoying, finishing 4th, 3rd and 5th under Sir Bobby Robson, making Newcastle a potentially attractive destination for many players.
That was a time, and even a bit before then, where they tried to go after the best, too, as explained by Rafael Márquez, who was at AS Monaco at the time when the Magpies came knocking.
He said to TUDN, on their podcast La Pelota Al Que Sabe: “More than any other club, perhaps another league, at the beginning, when I was in Monaco in my first year, I had an offer from Newcastle. But it was not the league that it is today. The league has improved since. I think today it is the best, and maybe I would have liked to play in an important team of the Premier League.”
His first year at AS Monaco came in 1999, meaning this approach will have come in 2000, a year the Magpies finished 11th.
Perhaps that’s why he decided against it, which ended up being the right move, as his career then took him to FC Barcelona in 2003, where he stayed for seven years until 2010.