Transfer Opinion: Newcastle should tempt four-start Spurs starlet with the promise of first-team action

With both Danny Rose and Jetro Willems returning to their parent clubs after their loan spells at St James’ Park this season, Newcastle United have been left in a position where there is a gaping hole in the squad at left back.

Matt Ritchie has covered in the role for several seasons but showed from his performances at right midfield, where he both scored and assisted, that he is more suited to an advanced position. Additional evidence comes in the form of Ritchie’s average match rating, 7.15 at left back, increasing to 7.42 on the right side of midfield.

Meanwhile, Paul Dummett is a reliable left sided centre back who lacks the pace to influence a game at both ends while on the left channel. However, Newcastle target Ryan Sessegnon has proven in the past to be adept at effecting proceedings in both boxes when deployed at left back, and Steve Bruce should do his utmost to tempt the 20-year-old away from Tottenham Hotspur.

This term Sessegnon started just four Premier League matches, making a meagre ten starts in all competitions for Spurs. However, he was still able to impress in the Champions League, registering an assist against Red Star Belgrade and a goal against Bayern Munich, both in the group stages.

In his second English top-flight campaign, he failed to sustain his impressive two goals and six assists for Fulham, which dropped from an audacious 16 goals and eight assists during the 2017/18 Championship campaign. However, his decline in the top-flight could be attributed to his lack of opportunities which saw him make 29 fewer appearances in the Premier League last term, compared to Fulham’s disastrous 2018/19 season.

Only a year ago Sessegnon arrived at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium for £25m; nevertheless, it has been reported that the left back is top of Bruce’s targets for the summer transfer window. With no other natural left backs at his disposal, Bruce must attempt to lure Sessegnon to St James’ Park under the promise that he will feature significantly more frequently than his four Premier League starts last term.

The primary concern for the Magpies may be that now the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund has pulled out of the takeover, Bruce is expected to have just £35m, plus player sales, to spend this window. Regardless, if Newcastle can balance the books and bring in the 20-year-old, they should not hesitate to do so.

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Transfer Opinion: Newcastle should pay up £20m for seven-goal star

It appears Steve Bruce may have only been afforded a budget reportedly worth around £35m, plus any extra income from player sales, after the Saudi Arabian backed takeover fell through. Even so, he should not hesitate to tempt reported Newcastle United target Harry Wilson to Tyneside from Liverpool.

It has been suggested that the Red, who spent last season on loan with A.F.C Bournemouth, would cost £20m, a sizeable chunk of Bruce’s suggested budget for this summer transfer window. Although, for that outlay, the Magpies would be getting a midfielder who can not only occupy several roles but also add creatively and provide a goal threat of his own.

Last term Wilson was only outscored by namesake Cherries striker Callum Wilson, who bagged eight goals, one more than the on-loan Liverpool ace’s seven strikes. Only five midfielders in the Premier League scored more goals last season than Wilson, four of whom played for sides who finished in the top six of the division. Furthermore, he was the highest-scoring midfielder at a relegated team, epitomising his importance while on the south coast.

Newcastle have been desperate for goals, with Dwight Gayle finishing the season as the highest-scoring striker on four Premier League strikes, while only top scorer Jonjo Shelvey, six, found the net more than five times. During his time in the Championship with Derby County, Wilson was prolific, finding the back of the net on 14 occasions. Although his goals halved when he made the step up to the Premier League, there is still time for the 23-year-old to develop his attacking potency further.

The left-footed Wilson primarily started from the right channel under Eddie Howe last term, and he could slot in seamlessly to the Newcastle United starting eleven in the same role next season. Towards the end of the campaign Bruce preferred to use a 4-2-3-1 formation and an attacking midfield trio of Allan Saint-Maximin, Miguel Almiron and Wilson could prove to be potent.

Another exciting aspect Wilson would bring to the Magpies is his ability to score direct free kicks. Last term two of his seven strikes were from a dead ball, and his deliveries or shots from static scenarios would add an extra dimension to Newcastle’s attack.

While Wilson may cost the majority of Bruce’s budget this summer, the Reds’ Welsh midfielder is a player Newcastle must try their best to bring in. Wilson has proven this season he is capable of playing in the top-flight and still scored more than any Magpies player despite being relegated while out on loan.

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Transfer Opinion: Why Newcastle must avoid splashing cash on Champions League quarter finalist

All season long, a major concern for Steve Bruce has been that Newcastle are woefully short of firepower in attack. Jonjo Shelvey finished as the Toon’s top-scorer on six strikes in the 2019/20 campaign, and the Magpies boss appears to be already searching for reinforcements in the transfer window. One player who has been linked with a switch to St James’ Park, and a return to the Premier League, is Bertrand Traore.

The former Chelsea forward can play either as a winger or lead the line himself, but Newcastle should be very cautious about a move for the Burkina Faso international. Based on his form in the French top-flight this term, before the season was curtailed, Traore may not provide the solution to Newcastle’s attacking impotence as he scored just once in 23 appearances.

His one goal was Traore’s lowest total since joining the Ligue 1 side, and there has been a steady decline during his three seasons with Lyon. After scoring 13 goals in his debut campaign with the French side, Traore then mustered just seven goals the following term, dropping to only one this season.

Based on his current trajectory, there is little to suggest that the 24-year-old could arrive at St James’ Park and reinvigorate Newcastle’s forward line, as Traore has also contributed just three assists this term. In total the forward has only set teammates up to score on nine occasions in 88 Ligue 1 matches, one every 9.7 games.

While at Chelsea, after emerging as a prospect through their youth academy, Traore did show some impressive signs, scoring twice and assisting once in four Premier League starts during the 2015/16 campaign. Even so, he was promptly moved on to Ajax, on loan, where he reached the Europa League final, both scoring and assisting four goals as the Dutch giants ended the tournament as runners up to Manchester United.

Given Traore scored half as many goals as Joelinton’s two last season, and that Bruce admitted he was not a “natural goalscorer“, it appears the 24-year-old fits the same category. Considering Traore has been so desperately short of goals of late, he would be best avoided this transfer window by Newcastle. He should be left to Leicester City, Everton and Crystal Palace, who are also reportedly interested.

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Transfer Opinion: Move for relegated duo highlights a sensible switch in Toon recruitment strategy

Last summer Newcastle pushed the boat out, nearly doubling the transfer record at St James’ Park to bring in Joelinton from Hoffenheim for £40m. But the Brazilian striker had no previous Premier League experience and had failed to score more than seven goals in a season, during his time in the German top-flight.

Unfortunately, Joelinton’s adaptation to the Premier League was not smooth and saw the 23-year-old go 2,130 minutes and 39 shots without scoring in the English top-flight. However, it appears the Newcastle hierarchy may have learned from their recruitment errors last term, based on the fact that the Magpies have been linked with moves for A.F.C Bournemouth’s Joshua King and Callum Wilson.

The strike duo often lined up alongside one another for the Cherries, but after relegation to the Championship both have been linked with moves elsewhere. King has just one year remaining on his existing contract which could be beneficial in helping Newcastle secure a deal for the Norwegian international. Although, it has been suggested that up to ten clubs have already enquired about his services, including French champions Paris Saint-Germain.

Meanwhile, Wilson has been valued at £30m by the Cherries, but that would make any move to the northeast an extreme challenge as Steve Bruce has reportedly only been given a £35m, plus player sales, transfer kitty this summer. Regardless, the suggestion that Newcastle are looking to bring in some experienced Premier League strikers epitomises a change in their recruitment strategy from last term.

The only other permanent summer arrival came in the form of Allan Saint-Maximin, who as significantly more impressive than Joelinton, scoring three and assisting four goals. Even so, the Frenchman did not adapt to life on Tyneside seamlessly, only scoring his first goal against Sheffield United in December.

If the Magpies can secure either Bournemouth striker, it will be a significant step in addressing the disastrous move for two-goal striker Joelinton. Newcastle’s frontline is crying out for some more potent players with Premier League experience. Dwight Gayle and Andy Carroll, with 119 and 230 top-flight appearances respectively, scored just four strikes last season, with the England international failing to find the net after returning to St James’ Park. If Bruce fails to add a finishing touch in forward areas to the Toon, then another relegation battle could be looming.

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Transfer Opinion: Newcastle must go all in for £36m-rated ideal Shelvey partner

A queue of Premier League clubs are reportedly lining up to sign Marseille central midfielder Morgan Sanson, including Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur, West Ham United and Newcastle United. The 25-year-old was enjoying an impressive campaign before the Ligue 1 season was curtailed prematurely, with Andre Villas-Boas’ side finishing second place, 12 points behind Paris Saint-Germain.

Sanson featured in all but one of Marseille’s Ligue 1 matches, making 27 appearances in the heart of the midfield. Furthermore, he stood out in the engine room, as only striker Dario Benedetto, 11, and Dimitri Payet, nine, scored more goals than the 25-year-old’s five.

Sanson could have been on course for one of his most productive seasons in front of goal with ten matches left to play before the season came to an abrupt end, his previous best came in 2017/18 when the Frenchman fired in nine Ligue 1 strikes.

Additionally, no other Marseille’s player provided more assists than the central midfielder, who played teammates through to score on four occasions last term. With his five goals and four assists, Sanson was directly involved in 21.9 per cent of the second-placed French sides’ 41 Ligue 1 strikes, an astonishing total for a central midfielder.

Newcastle United are crying out for central midfield reinforcements with Matty Longstaff leaving after his contract expired and Nabil Bentaleb returning to Schalke after his loan spell ended. Sanson would be an ideal candidate to sit alongside Jonjo Shelvey in the centre of the park for the Magpies next term, as he would ease the burden on Newcastle’s top scorer to find the net while also providing excellent defensive cover.

Last term, the 25-year-old made an average of 2.2 tackles per match, along with 2.2 interceptions. No Newcastle player made more tackles per game than Bentaleb’s 1.9 per 90 minutes, highlighting how his influence in the midfield will be missed, but Sanson showed last term he could capably fill that void while adding more creatively.

Only Shelvey played more key passes per game, 1.7, than Sanson’s 1.1, of any Newcastle central midfielder, suggesting the duo could be a wonderful playmaking midfield pivot together.

Overall, Sanson’s performances last term proved that he could offer Newcastle not only defensive stability but creativity as well in midfield. The magpies must go all-in for the target, who is valued at £36m by Marseille, though has just one year remaining on his contract, and fend off competition from Premier League rivals.

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Transfer Opinion: Newcastle must beat frontrunners to plug vital squad gap

Wigan Athletic may have endured a cruel end to the Championship season at the hands of their owner, having been relegated after going into administration, allegedly due to a bet that the Latics would go down placed in the Philippines. But it could get worse for the League One side yet as some of their brightest stars could be snatched up this summer.

One player who is already garnering Premier League interest is left back Antonee Robinson, who had a terrific campaign in the second-tier last term. Sheffield United are reportedly the frontrunners to secure the American international’s signature; however, Newcastle United should beat the Blades to their target and plug a vital gap in the squad.

Last term two loanees held down the left back slot on Tyneside. First Jetro Willems arrived in the summer on loan from Eintracht Frankfurt, and the Dutch international made an excellent first impression and even scored twice, against Liverpool and Manchester City. However, his time at St James’ Park was ended prematurely when he suffered a nasty rupture of his cruciate ligament.

In January, England international Danny Rose arrived in Willems’ place and performed admirably during his 11 Premier League appearances, leading to speculation that the Magpies may sign him permanently for £5m.

However, it’s been suggested that Robinson’s asking price is an even more reasonable £1.9m, which could prove to be a steal given that the 23-year-old nearly joined AC Milan for £10m in January. The American international may have only provided one goal and assist in the Championship last term, but he caught the eye with some commanding defensive performances.

Only Lewis MacLeod, 2.8, provided more tackles per 90 minutes than Robinson’s 2.2 in the second tier for Wigan last term. Furthermore, the full back also completed the second-highest number of interceptions per match, two, behind only Dujon Sterling on 2.9 per game. What was even more impressive though, is that the left back was able to complete so many tackles and interceptions while conceding just 0.8 fouls per 90 minutes.

Robinson may not offer too much in the way of attacking contribution, but it is clear from his Championship performances last season that he is adept at regaining possession. With both Rose and Willems back at their parent clubs, Newcastle are currently without a natural left back, and Robinson could plug a gap which desperately needs filling.

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Pundit View: Edwards, “the onus is on Mauriss” to complete Newcastle takeover

Newcastle United’s long-running and highly public Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund backed takeover may have fallen through, but that does not mean that Mike Ashley is out of options to sell the club. There have been suggestions that other suitors are interested in taking the reins at St James’ Park, with Clear TV’s chief executive Henry Mauriss heavily touted as next in line to take over.

While he may not have an eye-watering sovereign wealth fund worth $300b connected with his bid, Ashley has been attempting to sell the Magpies for some time. Without the complications of piracy and human rights abuses, Mauriss could be the man to get a takeover over the line, and Luke Edwards has suggested the ball is in the American’s court.

What did he say?

Writing in the Telegraph, Edwards said: “Henry Mauriss does not have a public profile, even in the USA. But the bid – funded by the company not himself – is genuine and things have been progressing behind the scenes.

“The big difference with this bid, compared to previous ones, is Mauriss wants things to be done in private.”

The journalist continued by adding: “The idea is for Mauriss to be in charge before the start of next season, but that means working to a strict time frame which raises all sorts of potential problems.

“The onus, though, is on Mauriss. He has been interested since November but backed off when the PIF bid became public. If he really wants it, it is up to him to do the deal. Many others have got this far and then disappeared.”

Back again

According to Edwards, Mauriss has been interested in Newcastle for some time, and with the Saudi Arabian led deal currently off of the table, this could be the time for the American to make his move. After the Kingdom’s bid to take a majority stakeholding at Newcastle was stalled they pulled out of the prospective big to takeover the Magpies.

The Daily Mirror revealed that a source close to Mauriss had suggested he is “desperate” to become the owner at St James’ Park, but only time will tell just how desperate the media mogul is to part with his cash.

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Pundit View: Journalist explains why “most contentious and wearisome takeover in the history of the division” is over

Newcastle United will not be taken over by a Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund backed bid to take a majority shareholding at St James’ Park after the PIF pulled out on Thursday evening. The saga was drawn out over 16 weeks, and each twist and turn was made incredibly public. The first hurdle was the Kingdom’s human rights record, which drew criticism from Amnesty International, shortly followed by the beoutQ piracy scandal in the region.

However, the final stumbling block is thought to be a lack of clarity as to who would be in charge of Newcastle United if the takeover was completed. It appears the Premier League were not satisfied that the Public Investment Fund was separate from government and that there would be no interference. Journalists George Caulkin, Chris Waugh and Adam Crafton have written to explain further why the deal was not completed.

What did they say?

Writing in The Athletic, Caulkin, Waugh and Crafton wrote: “[Yasir] Al-Rumayyan would have been named chairman, reflecting PIF’s majority control, but it is understood that Staveley would have been responsible for managing the club on the group’s behalf. But the structure, as well as the Saudi appointees to the board, failed to satisfy the Premier League.

“Sources close to the bid insist the issue which ‘kept being raised’ by the Premier League and which it ‘became impossible to offer any further assurances on’ was the separation between the PIF and the Saudi government, and whether Newcastle would have essentially become ‘state-owned’,” added the trio of Journalists.

Back where we started

After 16 long weeks of limbo Newcastle fans now finally have the “clarity” Steve Bruce called for. The journalists described the deal as the “most contentious and wearisome takeover in the history of the division”, and if there are other examples that come close, they have not been made public.

It appears the straw which finally broke the camel’s back and led to the Saudi backed consortium pulling out was the issue of who would really be in charge, along with the division failing to put a timeline on their decision. It’s claimed there were guarantees from the highest possible level that the PIF fund is independent of the Saudi state and that there would be no interference.

Nevertheless, Newcastle are back to square one. During the prospective takeover Mike Ashley’s ownership was likened to a “ghost ship”, and he must now retake the helm.

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Report: Newcastle’s 4.7 dribbles per match star who carried the Magpies this season

Joelinton may have been Newcastle’s record signing last summer when he arrived from Hoffenheim for £40m, but it is fair to say Allan Saint-Maximin grabbed all of the attention, at least for the right reasons. The flying French winger was captivating to watch and produced numerous dazzling displays in front of the Toon Army to win himself three Man of the Match awards this term.

But the 23-year-old was more than just easy on the eye, Newcastle did not look the same side without him, which was highlighted by winning just one of the 12 Premier League matches he did not feature in. Furthermore, only Miguel Almiron, ten, was directly involved in more goals than Saint-Maximin’s nine, comprised of four goals and five assists, in all competitions.

Steve Bruce’s tactics often appeared to limit Saint-Maximin’s capabilities, certainly in a 5-4-1 formation, which meant the winger had to travel incredibly long distances while carrying the ball up the field. Nevertheless, only two players in Europe’s top five leagues recorded a higher number of dribbles per match than Saint-Maximin’s 4.7, and they were Adama Traore, five, and Lionel Messi, 5.5, not bad company to keep.

When Bruce did set the Frenchman free in a 4-2-3-1 formation, the results proved to be mightily effective, highlighted in the 4-1 win over A.F.C Bournemouth, where the winger recorded a trio of assists.

Prior to lockdown, Saint-Maximin provided two goals and one assist in 1274 minutes of Premier League action, to provide a contribution every 424.6 minutes.

After lockdown – excluding the final day against Liverpool – when Bruce primarily stuck with a four-man defence, the 23-year-old contributed three assists and scored one goal in 554 minutes of action, for a goal involvement every 138.5 minutes. The contrast in Newcastle’s attacking play before and after the break was incredibly stark and Saint-Maximin was one of the primary benefactors of the switch in formation.

No longer were his dribbles from so deep that he could not influence play in the attacking third, epitomised by his assist for Sean Longstaff against the Cherries. He set up that goal with a driving run to the by-line and cut the ball back to the midfielder who was ready and waiting to smash the ball in, right where he’d told Longstaff to be. Expect to see more scenario’s like this occurring next term if Bruce sticks with the formation, which could see the Frenchman break the ten goal involvement barrier.

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Pundit View: Staveley “I don’t want to give up” “Newcastle are the last great untapped club”

Reports emerged last night which revealed the devastating news that no Newcastle fans would have wanted to hear; Mike Ashley is going nowhere for now. The Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund backed prospective bid to take over at St James’ Park fell through after months of deliberations which had stalled.

The final stumbling block appeared to be a lack of clarity over who would be in charge of the club, 16 weeks after documents relating to the £300m takeover were registered with the Premier League. British financer Amanda Staveley led the bid, and she emotionally revealed the circumstances surrounding its collapse.

What did she say?

Speaking to The Athletic’s George Caulkin, Staveley said: “The Premier League wanted the country, Saudi, to become a director of the football club. That’s what this is about.

“They were effectively saying ‘PIF wouldn’t be the ultimate beneficial owner, we believe it’s actually the government. Therefore we want the country to become a director’, which puts them in an impossible situation.”

The broker added: “We had a plan for £250 million of investment in the club over the first few years, as much as we could put in. And on top of that, we had massive plans to invest in the city, in housing, everything. We talked with the council.

“Newcastle are the last great untapped club. The last great club with so much potential to grow and improve and with a fanbase who are already there and who wanted it so much.”

Devastating news

If what Staveley has said is correct, the plans put in place by the Saudi PIF fund could have not only transformed Newcastle United but the whole city. It is easy to understand why fans have described themselves as “devastated” and “heartbroken” at what could have been.

Staveley has suggested that £250m, the maximum Newcastle could have spent to abide by financial fair play over the course of three seasons, was set to be injected into the club, which could have helped revitalise this side. The Magpies are in a precarious position having finished bottom of the expected points table this season, behind even Norwich City, on 31.92.

Instead, Steve Bruce will likely be left with Ashley’s £35m plus player sales transfer kitty this summer, and he will have to recruit incredibly diligently to ensure Newcastle avoid a third relegation under Ashley.

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