Exclusive – Newcastle’s prospective new owners are interested in investing in British talent when the transfer window re-opens, with John Stones and Chris Smalling among the players on a homegrown hit list.
The takeover is expected to be completed in the coming weeks, in spite of widespread concerns about the human rights record of Saudi Arabia and Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, who sits at the head of the Public Investment Fund, which will have a reported 80% stake in the deal.
According to a report last month, which tempered expectations of a full Manchester City-style spending spree to turn Newcastle into immediate top-four challengers, the new ownership – once official – is expected to inject around £200m as part of a programme of investment every three years (covering not just transfers but also infrastructure and improving business processes).
While a litany of stars – from Philippe Coutinho to Nabil Fekir – have been touted, a source has told 90min that Newcastle’s incoming hierarchy are interested in targeting primarily British players to form their backbone of the team.
The club are keen on recruiting a top-class centre back with Man City’s Stones and Man Utd’s Smalling under consideration, with both out of favour at their clubs.
Smalling, now 30, has a price tag of around £25m after impressing on loan at Roma – who are reticent to spend big on a permanent deal. Meanwhile, it is thought that City would want as much as £40m for 25-year-old Stones, who made only 10 Premier League starts before the hiatus.
In addition, Norwich duo Jamal Lewis and Max Aarons are both players of interest to Newcastle, who want significant upgrades on their full back options this summer.
Lewis and Aarons have been linked with a host of clubs this summer, with Norwich likely to be relegated – whenever and however the Premier League season concludes. However, Newcastle hope their new-found investment can help them compete with traditionally wealthier rivals.
The Canaries’ highly rated Todd Cantwell (who has been linked with Liverpool and Tottenham) is another who could be targeted further up the field, as is Aston Villa’s John McGinn – a player the Magpies have admired for some time.
Meanwhile, regarding current players, 90min has been told that the club’s homegrown midfielders Matty and Sean Longstaff – whose situations have been precarious in recent months – will be offered new contracts as one of the new ownership’s first orders of squad business.
It is as yet unclear, who will be in charge of the potentially new-look squad beyond the end of the current season.
Last month, it was reported that current manager Steve Bruce would be kept on until at least the end of the season, with a chance to prove his worth. However, there has since been gossip that former Spurs boss and Champions League finalist Mauricio Pochettino was being lined up.
The Argentine will be free to approach, without having to pay any compensation to Tottenham, in June.