And now it’s a move which is paying off handsomely for a manager with a clear vision for his team’s future.
Anthony Gordon was the man they didn’t want, especially for €45.6 million. Just why on earth was Newcastle United boss Howe pushing a deal for the young Evertonian, who had thrived on Merseyside as the pantomime villain without much output?
Four goals in 40 games in all competitions were his career-best - and if those stats warrant that sort of outlay, we are surely well past the looking glass when it comes to inter-Premier League transfers.
But you can ask any Magpies fan today: Gordon has more than vindicated Howe’s decision, being Newcastle’s most effective winger so far this season.
Howe took a gradual approach to integrating Gordon into his team since that winter transfer. The majority of his 16 appearances last season were as a substitute, allowing him to adapt to his new environment and achieve Howe's blueprint of having among the highest standards of fitness.
While his initial impact on Tyneside was modest and sometimes poor - he looked jaded in some games when he was a starter and the attack was filtered to his side - he excelled for England during the summer, making a substantial contribution to their triumph in the Euro U21s.
He won the Player of the Tournament award, having played all six of the Three Lions’ games.
Upon transferring to Newcastle, Gordon asserted that his full capabilities were yet to be revealed, highlighting that he was below fitness when he first joined.
His standout performances for England provided a glimpse of his potential. And so far, Gordon has proved himself right. The 22-year-old has carried this form into the current season, securing a regular position on Newcastle's left flank as the go-to starter.
In the remarkable 8-0 triumph over Sheffield United, Gordon - initially rested - ultimately earned the player-of-the-match accolade. Coming off the bench in the 12th minute to replace the injured Harvey Barnes, he demonstrated his adaptability by scoring and providing an assist.
His displays have been consistently excellent since then.
Even in defeat for Newcastle, Gordon stands out as someone who seldom puts a foot wrong.
It’s just taken time, and some nurturing along the way, but this precocious talent has been a delight - a personification of Howeball; the sort of player the English coach would make from scratch had he been plunged into some sort of Frankensteinesque scenario: riveting, tenacious, intense, the right amount of angry and with an ability to score and assist.
According to our player valuation model, Gordon has a current Estimated Transfer Value (eTV) of €27.2 million, ranging from €20.4m to €34m.
The England international’s market worth has been constantly on the rise since his move to Newcastle, and it’s now at its peak.
The fact Gordon’s contract at St James’ Park is up in 2026 means the club may look to secure his future with fresh terms in the coming months, particularly given how well he has performed this season.
Statistically, Gordon’s improvement from last season with Everton is clear.
According to our data, his goals per 90 minutes have almost doubled from 0.23 to 0.44 so far this season. His assists meanwhile have gone from nothing to 0.26.
He successfully cuts inside 1.22 times per 90 minutes in comparison to 0.47 at Goodison Park, while he has dribbled past his opponent 6.12 times per 90 minutes, another significant increase from 4.74 last season.
Compared to the rest of the Premier League, Gordon yields the best volume of turnovers in the opposition half. He also has the best ball retention for any winger in the Premier League, with data showing him to be the fourth best overall.
He boasts solid numbers for pressing in the final third, being among the top ten in his position.
Gordon has also been able to find the right crosses for his team-mates - his succinct pass to Jamaal Lascelles for the centre-back’s headed goal against Chelsea last weekend showed that he is able to deliver dangerous weighted balls into the box when the option to shoot or lay off to a team-mate is unavailable.
That growing maturity, and ability to deliver meaningful end product, is just further proof that Gordon is a young talent fast developing into the real deal.
Just as Howe clearly knew he would.
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