The genius Newcastle United double transfer swoop that can turn them into Champions League regulars

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The Magpies are being linked with a couple of big name defenders

It is 20 degrees in Gateshead today. Celsius, no less. That’s shorts weather in these here parts. As I look out of my kitchen window, I can see verdant adolescent leaves on branches that were spindly and bare just a few fleeting weeks ago, and somewhere in the middle distance, the hum of a lawnmower drifts busily. Summer is almost upon us.

But really, I don’t need sunshine or foliage or neighbourly gardening to know when spring has run its course. I just need to click through to the BBC Sport gossip page and see Jules Kounde’s name. Every transfer window, like clockwork or Japanese trains, the French defender is mentioned in relation to some aspiring Premier League trophy hunter (as in literal silverware, not rhinoceroses) or other. In recent times, it has been Manchester United and Chelsea fronting the peloton. This year, it would seem Newcastle United have taken up their mantle.

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According Mundo Deportivo, the Magpies are now jostling with their aforementioned English rivals, as well as continental giants Paris Saint-Germain and Inter, for the services of the centre-back. It is understood that his current employers, FC Barcelona, in all of their financial pandemonium, have identified the need to offload a defender or two in the coming weeks, and Kounde joins the likes of Ronald Araujo, Andreas Christensen, Iñigo Martínez, Pau Cubarsí, and Eric Garcia on the rickety wooden staircase leading up to the gallows.

For his part, the 25-year-old is under contract in Catalonia until 2027, and is said to be reluctant to leave this summer, but to him, Barcelona say: ‘TOUGH LUCK, BUCKO! HOPE YOU LIKE STEAK BAKES!’. You see, if Newcastle could somehow fend off the overwhelming heft of elite interest in Kounde, as well as convincing the player himself to swap Las Ramblas for the Bigg Market, his arrival would represent a major coup - and one that would reiterate their status as Champions League hopefuls next season.

Here, we are talking about a World Cup finalist in the prime of his career who has notable experience at the very highest level of European club football, and who is capable of playing in multiple positions. To bring in a talent of his ilk in an area of the pitch that is widely perceived to need reinforcement would exactly the kind of injection that Newcastle are crying out for as they look to bridge the chasm between themselves and the top four.

But there is more besides. According to Foot Mercato, the Magpies have also reached an agreement to sign Lloyd Kelly from Bournemouth this summer. Again, the 25-year-old is a darling of the gossip columns, and has most frequently been associated, in a speculative sense, with the likes of Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool of late. As with Kounde, to snatch him from under such auspicious noses would be quite the statement of intent.

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That is where Newcastle find themselves, competing with the big boys for players who can help them to become one of the big boys. Money is never going to be an issue for the Magpies, but cultivating an appeal that can disrupt the likes of Manchester United, Chelsea, Spurs, or Liverpool could take some time. Already, however, it would appear that Eddie Howe’s men are well on the way to doing exactly that.

And once you can sign a couple of players like Kounde or Kelly, the whole project becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy; suddenly you are in amongst the Champions League ever-presents on a regular basis, and suddenly it is easier to sign more and more players who can keep you there.

This is why the prospective double deal that Newcastle are eyeing up here is so important; it is emblematic of their desire to reach that next level in their development as a club. No pressure, or anything...

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