Tactical Insights

Newcastle accelerate signing of transfer-listed Barcelona ace; Man Utd target and Xabi Alonso favourite also eyed

Newcastle have taken the first step towards signing Barcelona and Brazil winger Raphinha, while deals for a Manchester United target and Bayer Leverkusen full-back could also be explored, according to a report.

Eddie Howe’s side have tumbled back down to earth this term after exceeding expectations last year. The demands of competing in Europe as well as the Premier League played havoc with Howe’s squad, with Newcastle suffering a rash of injuries throughout the season.

Their return to the Champions League ended in the group stage, while their League Cup and FA Cup hopes were both dashed at the quarter-final stage.

Newcastle currently sit 10th in the table and are not on course to qualify for Europe in any guise next season. While they’ll never admit it, a season to consolidate without the added fixture pile-up may be a blessing in disguise.

Howe will fancy his chances of roaring back next term and despite rumoured Financial Fair Play concerns, the Newcastle Chronicle state money is available for splashes in the transfer market.

They acknowledge an outgoing or two will be required, though Howe will get the chance to add quality to his squad.

DON’T MISS: Top 10 most transferable Newcastle stars if FFP concerns force Magpies into major summer sales

On that front, it’s revealed Steve Nickson – who is Newcastle’s Head of Recruitment and a candidate to replace Man Utd-bound Dan Ashworth as sporting director – was talent-spotting at Wembley last week.

Newcastle size up Raphinha; Barcelona will sell

Nickson was in attendance for Brazil’s 1-0 friendly victory over England and among those in his sights was Barcelona’s Raphinha.

The 27-year-old secured a dream move to Catalonia two summers ago, though the emergence of Lamine Yamal has reduced his importance at Barcelona.

Furthermore, Spanish outlet Sport recently claimed Barca hope to raise a whopping €200m through player sales this summer.

Departures for five players are ‘likely’ – Eric Garcia, Clement Lenglet, Raphinha, Ansu Fati and whichever of Jules Kounde and Andreas Christensen attracts the biggest bids.

ICYMI: The 10 most expensive transfers Newcastle United have made since Saudi owners PIF took charge

Barcelona will hope to recoup all of the £55m (add-ons included) they paid Leeds United back in 2021.

The Chronicle note Raphinha is a long-standing target at St. James’ Park and the upcoming summer may represent the perfect time for Newcastle to finally get their hands on the player who dazzled in England while in west Yorkshire. Nickson’s scouting mission is the first step towards a deal taking shape.

Man Utd target, Leverkusen ace also watched

Elsewhere, Nickson also watched Man Utd centre-back target, Gleison Bremer, during England’s clash with Brazil.

READ MORE: Man Utd to include Mason Greenwood in stunning cash-plus-player deal for Gleison Bremer

The 27-year-old was used off the bench and per Fabrizio Romano, can be signed if offers of €60m are bid.

Bremer’s existing deal with Juventus contains a release clause worth that amount that becomes active in 2025. However, a ‘verbal pact’ between Bremer and Juventus will ensure bids of €60m this summer will be considered.

The Chronicle also noted Nickson was in attendance for Spain’s friendly clash with Colombia that took place at West Ham’s ground last Friday.

On Nickson’s watchlist was left-back Alex Grimaldo who has been nothing short of sensational for Xabi Alonso’s table-topping Bayer Leverkusen this season.

Deployed in a more advanced wingback role, Grimaldo, 28, has scored 11 goals and provided 15 assists across all competitions this term.

Given he’s under contract until 2027, the Chronicle concluded a deal won’t come cheaply.

READ MORE: Eight defenders Newcastle can target after Botman blow, including Leeds Utd rock and unwanted Barcelona star

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