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Defender’s Signing Makes Newcastle United The Best Balanced Championship Team

Newcastle United have completed the £5m signing of defender Ciaran Clark from Aston Villa. The 26-year-old, who can play at centre-back, left-back or in a holding midfield role, becomes the Magpies’ eighth signing of the summer and has penned a five-year deal at St James’ Park.

While finding positives from a season in which they have been relegated is tough, the Toons will have realised things could have been worse. The biggest achievement last season, hands down was their ability to retain Rafa Benitez as their manager despite the drop. He had the option to leave the club if they failed to stay up, but he decided to take up the challenge, which was in stark contrast to whatever he has faced till date.

Newcastle have been undergoing a massive transformation this summer as Rafa Benitez puts his wit up against the managers of the Championship. While he has been lauded for not turning his back on the club after the unfortunate relegation, the Spaniard will be well aware of the challenges he will be facing.

Rafa has been seemingly up for the task as he has gone about changing the core at the Tyneside club.  While on one hand, they are having a hard time keeping their star players, on the other hand, Rafa has been gradually forming a British core who will be suited to the travails of the Championship. The signings of Dwight Gayle, Matt Richie, Issac Hayden and Grant Hanley point to that fact.

And with the latest acquisition of Ciaran Clark he has added a player who has a wealth of experience in English football. Rafa was effusive in his praise for the player, who was amongst one of the few bright spots in a dismal season for Aston Villa.

Aston Villa v A.F.C. Bournemouth - Premier League

“Ciaran is a very versatile player, as a left-footed centre-back he can also play left-back and also as a defensive midfielder.

“He has a lot of experience of English football and will add good balance and competition to our squad.

“I am sure he will progress with us here at Newcastle, we are very happy for him to join us.”

Clarke came through the ranks at Villa and with the transfer to Newcastle, ends a 15-year long alliance with his boyhood club. He made his debut for Villa back in 2009 after coming through the club’s academy. Clark went on to make 159 appearances, scoring ten goals in six seasons with Villa. The centre-back also helped the Republic of Ireland reach the last 16 of Euro 2016 this summer, where they were beaten by eventual finalists France.

He will offer further options to the manager and will likely challenge for an immediate spot in the first team. While the player admitted his first preference was to play in the Premier League again, the chance to play for a big club like Newcastle was hard to reject. And the lure of a manager of Rafa’s calibre has already paid rich dividends for the club who look in good shape for an immediate promotion.

With the quality of players signed in each position, competing with the Magpies will be a tough task for any side. It makes the Tyneside-based outfit a well-balanced squad and the fans will now hope the team can perform well together and get back to the top flight.

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