NEWCASTLE United have signed players from far and wide this summer.
But a boy from Bristol, plucked from the club’s Academy, has the ability to outshine them all.
The Schalke 04 Cup saw the good, the bad and the ugly over its two days - on and off the pitch.
Fighting, sparked by West Ham United fans, overshadowed the football on Saturday.
Thankfully, the tournament ended on something of a high yesterday, and it was Rolando Aarons - not Remy Cabella or Facundo Ferreyra - who everyone was talking about after the club’s 3-1 win over Schalke 04 at the Veltins Arena.
Aarons set up Emmanuel Riviere’s first-half opener with a well-weighted cross from the left after running half the length of the pitch.
The best, however, was yet to come from Jamaican-born Aarons, who joined Newcastle from Bristol City two years ago.
Aarons broke down the left again, but he didn’t have anyone to aim for this time.
Instead, he floated a cross-cum-shoot towards the goal which beat Ralf Fahrmann and sailed into the far corner of the net.
Aarons told United manager Alan Pardew and his team-mates after the game that he meant it.
That’s debatable, but it does seem certain is that Aarons, an energetic left-footed winger who loves taking on his man, will be given a chance in the Premier League.
New signing Ferreyra came off the bench to set up fellow substitute Cabella for Newcastle’s third goal.
Donis Avdijaj netted for Schalke with the last kick of the game.
The performance was in marked contrast to that a day earlier, when the team were well beaten by Malaga, who won the four-team tournament after overcoming West Ham United 2-0 yesterday.
Newcastle were both organised and enterprising against Schalke, who faded after an early spell of pressure.
The game kicked off after a minute’s applause in memory of United fans John Alder and Liam Sweeney, who lost their lives aboard down Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 last month.
Pardew made eight changes to his starting XI, and one of those coming into the side was Riviere.
Schalke, however, dominated the the first 15 minutes, with Jens Keller’s side having pinned Newcastle back in their own half, where they had to defend deep and in numbers.
United broke upfield quickly in the 18th minute.
Aarons took the ball in his own half and raced up the left wing. The winger reached the byline and delivered a well-weighted cross for Riviere, who met it at the near post to put Pardew’s side in the lead.
Newcastle had an organisation and discipline about them which had been lacking in Saturday’s 3-1 defeat to Malaga.
Schalke had most of the first-half possession, but there was a welcome resilience to their visitors, whose confidence grew the longer the half wore on.
They took their advantage into the half-time break.
United’s first-half performance had quietened Schalke’s normally-boisterous fans, massed in a standing section at one end of the 62,000-capacity stadium.
The best was yet to come from Newcastle, who took a two-goal lead in the 54th minute.
Aarons broke up the left, and with nothing to aim for in the box, he launched cross-cum-shot which sailed over Fahrmann and into the far corner of the net.
Ferreyra came off the bench along with Cabella in the 57th minute.
And he set up Cabella for his first United goal, the forward scoring with a low shot from just inside the box.
Avdijaj’s injury-time goal was neither here nor there, and many Schalke fans - who had been silenced by Newcastle’s performance - had already headed out of the stadium by the time he found net.
All of United’s fans stayed to the final whistle.
And it was Aarons who they were talking about when they finally left the Veltins Arena.
On the evidence of pre-season so far, the boy’s a bit special.
SCHALKE 04: Fahrmann; Ayhan (Friedrich, 46), Santana, Matip, Kolasinac (Fuchs, 46); Neustadter (Hoger, 46), Sobottka, Aogo (Borgmann, 71); Prince Boateng (Multhaup, 46), Maxim Choupo-Moting (Avdijaj, 62), Meyer (Itter, 71).
NEWCASTLE UNITED: Krul (Elliot, 46); Anita (Vuckic, 73), Williamson (Streete, 73), Coloccini (Yanga-Mbiwa, 46), Dummett (Perez, 79); Obertan (Campbell, 73), Sissoko (Satka, 46), Colback (Abeid, 46), Aarons (Armstrong, 68); Riviere (Ferreyra, 57), Gouffran (Cabella, 57). Subs not used: Alnwick, Haidara, S Taylor.
Goals: Riviere 18, Aarons 54, Cabella 72, Avdijaj 90
Bookings: Aarons 34, Sobottka 77
Referee: Thorsten Kinhofer