Sign, sell, loan: the major transfer decisions Newcastle United still need to make this summer
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Newcastle United’s stateside stint is over and the Magpies coaching staff and players are now back on Tyneside as they take the next steps in their preparations for an exciting season at St James’ Park.
Last season’s surprise top four finish ensured Eddie Howe’s side will compete in European competition for the first time in a decade and in the Champions League for the first time since the days of Sir Bobby Robson, Alan Shearer and Gary Speed. It has already been an intriguing summer for the Magpies after they secured the impressive addition of AC Milan midfielder Sandro Tonali and Leicester City winger Harvey Barnes.
Now, with a month remaining in the transfer window, what could be the next steps as the United hierarchy look to boost Howe’s squad in a bid to compete in domestic competition and make an impact upon their return to European football’s top table?
There is an expectation the departure of Allan Saint-Maximin may well speed up potential incomings and the Magpies are believed to want at least two further additions to join Tonali and Barnes as the newest members of Eddie Howe’s squad.
The two full-back positions are high on the list of priorities and interest in Southampton defender Tino Livramento remains very much alive, despite the fact the two clubs remain some distance apart in their valuation of the former Chelsea academy man. Livramento is viewed as an upgrade in competition for regular right-back Kieran Trippier and an eventual successor for the England defender.
The other side of Howe’s back four is also being considered for a refresh. Dan Burn firmly established himself as first-choice left-back last season and Howe can also call upon the services of Matt Targett, Paul Dummett and Matt Ritchie - but there are still hopes a move for Arsenal left-back Kieran Tierney may well come to fruition before the transfer window closes.
Elsewhere, a right-sided centre-back could well be brought in if the right player becomes available. United’s recruitment team have been hard at work in recent months compiling a sizable list of potential targets and have taken in games across Europe and South America as the club’s scouting network continues to expand from the skeletal system in place during the previous owner’s reign. Crystal Palace’s Joachim Andersen, Nice’s Jean-Clair Todibo and Sporting CP’s Goncalo Inacio are on a lengthy list of players that have been watched in recent months but would come with sizable price tags and significant competition from elsewhere.
Despite the sale of Saint-Maximin, there have still been some indications Newcastle will need to ‘be creative’ with their budget. That could mean looking to include some squad players in potential part-exchange deals for new signings or, more likely, to utilise the loan market, with some options from clubs around Europe being considered for temporary moves with an obligation or option to convert that into a permanent switch at the end of the season.
One aspect of the coming weeks worth keeping an eye on is potential academy recruits. There is a desire to strengthen ages groups across United’s youth ranks and Southend United striker Kacey Wooster is said to be the newest addition to the academy as the 16-year-old follows Oldham Athletic’s Sam Alabi and Port Vale winger Michael Mills in moving to Tyneside. Wolves youngster Leo Sahar is set to make a similar move.
There has already been some trimming of the squad at St James’ Park this summer after defensive trio Kelland Watts, Jamal Lewis and Matty Bondswell all headed out on loan. Long-serving goalkeeper Karl Darlow has now officially joined Leeds United in a deal that was reportedly worth around £400,000 and, as mentioned earlier, Saint-Maximin is now the latest player to move to the Saudi Arabia Pro-League after completing a move to Al Ahli on Sunday.
There is still an understanding players will have to leave to trim the first-team pool and help United in their battle with Financial Fair Play (FFP) regulations. A potential arrival of Livramento would hasten Javier Manquillo’s departure as the former Liverpool and Atletico Madrid full-back continues to draw interest from two La Liga clubs as he enters the final year of his current deal at St James’ Park.
There could be a similar stance taken over the future of Matt Targett, who could be sold if Tierney arrives on Tyneside and United receive a suitable offer for the former Aston Villa left-back. However, it now seems increasingly likely club captain Jamaal Lascelles will remain at St James’ Park after he received significant support from Howe in a recent press conference. There had been some speculation former club Nottingham Forest and West Ham United were keen on the long-serving centre-back - but Howe’s comment seem to have ended any thoughts of a move away from the club.
The Magpies boss said: said: “I just want to add something, I just want to say with Jamaal in this group he has been an unbelievable captain. Captaincy does not just exist on the pitch, it has to exist off it as well. The two things are so intrinsically linked so a lot of our success last year came down to a group of players giving everything on and off the pitch.
“There was a group of people off the pitch and Jamaal was one of them. Now Jamaal will want to play like every player does but it’s how you react when you are not playing is the key. And I just want to pay tribute to what Jamaal did last year and we move forward together.”
There are probably two tiers of possible loan departures from St James’ Park this summer as Howe looks to whittle down his first-team squad and hand opportunities for younger players to gain senior experience elsewhere. However, there are complicating factors for players falling into both of those categories.
Firstly, there are several senior players that Howe has already confirmed will not get a squad number this season and will not feature in the first-team setup. Isaac Hayden, Jeff Hendrick and Ryan Fraser are all but certain to spend the new season elsewhere and there has been tentative interest in the trio.
Obviously, United would prefer permanent sales but the considerable weekly wage all three players command mean alternative methods will have to be found and that would open up the possibility of loan departures with the Magpies paying a percentage of their salary throughout the season.
There are also a number of United youngsters attracting attention from clubs across the EFL and in Scotland and there could be a departure over the coming days as Harrison Ashby reportedly closes in on a loan move to Swansea City after impressing for the Magpies first-team during a trio of games in the United States and Garang Kuol has interest from Dutch club Volendam. However, Elliot Anderson’s sparkling pre-season form has thrust him into the discussion over Howe’s starting eleven for the Premier League opener against Aston Villa, rather than any potential loan move away from Tyneside.
Qualifying for the Champions League will see Newcastle’s Under-19s compete in the UEFA Youth League for the first time and that has increased the workload on the club’s younger players, meaning several may well be kept on Tyneside to help cope with the hectic fixture list. Several of the current Under-21s squad spent time out on loan last season with varying levels of success and they will hope to build on that experience during the coming campaign - but some big questions will be asked over whether that experience comes with the Magpies or elsewhere.
The form Republic of Ireland youth international Alex Murphy and highly-rated midfielder Lewis Miley showed during the Premier League Summer Series will have thrust both players into Howe’s thinking after they produced mature displays against top class opposition over the last ten days.