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Garang Kuol has put pen to paper on a lucrative multi-year deal with Newcastle United to complete his remarkable rise from the A-League to the richest club in the world’s biggest league in just six stunning months.
Kuol, 18, flew to England after making his thrilling Socceroos debut in Auckland on Sunday to complete a medical and formalise his switch from the Central Coast Mariners to the cashed-up Premier League outfit, which will take effect when the transfer window re-opens in January. It was officially announced on Friday afternoon by the club.
“It’s unreal,” Kuol said in a statement.
“As a young boy in Australia, the Premier League is the main thing that everyone watches, but nobody actually thinks they’ll reach those heights. To be one of those people, to be in the position I am, it’s amazing.
“Now that I’ve signed for Newcastle, I want to train hard, play hard, hopefully go to the World Cup and come back here.”
The deal makes Kuol one of the highest-paid Australian footballers in the world, on a salary that puts him up there with the richest in the AFL and NRL – despite having not even made a single start in his short career. Such is the building hype around the 18-year-old forward, who made his A-League debut for the Central Coast Mariners in April, and went on to score four goals in his first seven appearances as a substitute.
The Mariners will reportedly receive a transfer fee of $500,000 (about £300,000) from Newcastle, but with the promise of much more to come into the club’s coffers through sell-on clauses and other bonus triggers.
Last week, Kuol became the youngest Socceroo since Harry Kewell in 1996 when he came off the bench for Australia against New Zealand in their final friendly before the World Cup. Within minutes, he made an undeniable impact, surging up the right flank in a move that culminated in the penalty for the Socceroos’ second goal in a 2-1 win. Kuol did the same thing in a post-season friendly for the A-League All Stars against FC Barcelona, dazzling with a second-half cameo before swapping shirts with Pierre-Emerick Aubamayang and earning rich praise from Xavi.
Coach Graham Arnold, despite public attempts to play down the fanfare surrounding Kuol, will find it hard to justify leaving him out of his 26-man squad for Qatar, particularly given the lack of similar X-factor players within the Australian ranks.
Kuol becomes only the third Australian player currently contracted to a Premier League club, along with Fulham’s Tyrese Francois, who was also in the Socceroos’ most recent squad but did not play any minutes against New Zealand and was recently loaned out to a Croatian affiliate. The other, Alex Robertson, 19, is at Manchester City but yet to make a senior appearance.
Garang Kuol has been officially unveiled by Newcastle United.
Kuol will not qualify for an automatic UK work permit, so is expected to be loaned out to another European club in January, with Portugal the most likely destination, according to sources. Consistent first-team opportunities are crucial for him to realise his precocious talents, which is why the selection of his loan club is so vital to Australia’s national interests.
Born in Egypt to South Sudanese refugee parents, Kuol grew up in a family of seven brothers in Shepparton, country Victoria, and came through the ranks at NPL team Goulburn Valley Suns.
Garang Kuol will have plenty of new fans after signing with a Premier League club.Credit:Getty
Alou, 21, the second-eldest, enjoyed a similar journey with the Mariners, earning a transfer 12 months ago to German Bundesliga side VfB Stuttgart, where he is in the mix for a debut after spending last season on loan at a lower-tier club. He has previously represented the Olyroos. Younger brothers Teng, 19, and Didi, 11, are also enrolled in the Mariners’ academy.
Kuol joins Newcastle at a fascinating moment in their 110-year history. A member of the Premier League in all bar three seasons since its foundation in 1992, the Magpies were bought last year by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund for £300 million – instantly making them the richest club in the world. They are expected to take on a similar trajectory as Manchester City following their takeover by the Abu Dhabi royal family, and part of that means beating rival clubs to the hottest young talent, like Kuol, who was recently named as one of the world’s top 250 talents born in 2000 or later by the CIES Football Observatory.
“Garang is a very promising young talent and we are excited that he’ll be continuing his development as a Newcastle United player,” said Newcastle’s sporting director Dan Ashworth. “Our philosophy is to invest in our Academy and in exciting young players for the future, as well as in players required to make an immediate impact in the first team. We wish Garang the best of luck in his remaining games with Central Coast Mariners and we hope to see him on the international stage again very soon.”
Newcastle’s interest in Kuol was first reported by the Herald, and they have fought off considerable interest from other big-name clubs to sign him, including Barcelona, Borussia Dortmund and Stuttgart. Celtic were also linked with him, and while manager Ange Postecoglou played down any likelihood of a move, the former Socceroos boss – as an avid watcher of the A-League – has kept a close eye on Kuol’s progress.
“We love a next big thing, don’t we? Hopefully, he can handle that,” Postecoglou said.
“He’s a really exciting talent, an exciting young kid in terms of embracing the platform he’s got at the moment. Sometimes in football careers, it’s all about timing. It seems like he’s come to the fore at the right time. If he can keep progressing the way he is and get himself to a World Cup and make an impact there, who knows where he can go?”
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