Newcastle United are ready to press ahead with the transfer plans they set in motion in January, and will look to finalize deals for Hugo Ekitike, Matt Targett and Jesse Lingard once the summer window opens.
The Magpies were in dire need of strengthening heading into the winter window, with their status as a Premier League club under serious threat following a terrible first half of the season.
But Eddie Howe emerged from the month with five signings – including Bruno Guimaraes, Dan Burn and Targett on loan in the last two days of the window – and has overseen a startling turnaround in the North East; one that has seen the club win six successive home games for the first time since 2004 to jump into the top half of the Premier League table.
With their relegation woes firmly in the rear view mirror, Newcastle are now planning to build on the foundations they laid in January – and 90min understands that a number of targeted players remain in their thoughts heading into the summer.
Reims teenager Hugo Ekitike came close to moving to Newcastle after 90min exclusively revealed the club’s interest in taking the 19-year-old to St James’ Park – but a deal failed to materialize before the January window closed.
However, interest in the transfer has remained from both sides, despite Ekitike – who in the first half of the season was the top-scoring teenager in Europe – being linked with a move to PSG.
90min understands that a deal for Ekitike worth around £30m to Reims is in the pipeline, although the move may initially be billed as a loan deal with obligation to buy after one season – which would help Newcastle strengthen in other areas of their squad and still guarantee the Ligue 1 side the money they are looking for.
Reims president Jean-Pierre Caillot has already confirmed an exit is on the horizon for Ekitike amid further interest from Manchester City, Chelsea, Arsenal, Wolves and West Ham United – though sources have confirmed to 90min that a deal with Newcastle is close.
One of Newcastle’s most impressive pieces of work in the January window was recruiting Matt Targett on loan from Aston Villa.
Ousted at Villa Park by Lucas Digne’s arrival from Everton, Targett arrived at St James’ Park on an initial loan deal without an obligation to buy – but 90min can confirm the two clubs already have a broad agreement in place that would see the 26-year-old move permanently for £15m.
Eddie Howe has been hugely impressed with what he has seen from Targett and believes he has fitted into the squad perfectly – so much so that he’s the driving force behind making the move permanent, like he has been with Ekitike.
Leicester, Wolves and Leeds also hold an interest in Target, 90min understands, but staying on Tyneside is the favored option.
Listen now to 90min’s brand new podcast, Talking Transferswith Scott Saunders &Graeme Bailey. Toby Cudworth joins the show to discuss how Erik ten Hag’s appointment may affect Man Utd’s pursuit of Paul Mitchell, the futures of Jesse Lingard & David de Gea, and Newcastle’s summer transfer plans.
Another player that Howe is ready to push for is out-of-contract Manchester United forward Jesse Lingard.
The 29-year-old was willing to join the Magpies in January, but saw United pull the plug on the move at the last minute.
Newcastle are not alone in looking at Lingard – there’s still interest from West Ham, whom he enjoyed a fantastic loan spell with during the second half of the 2020/21 season – but 90min understands that the deal on offer at St James’ Park is ‘significantly’ better than the terms on offer at London Stadium.
Atletico Madrid and AC Milan are not out of the running, but it’s understood that joining Newcastle does appeal to Lingard and Howe is central to the club’s push to conclude a deal.
Where else do Newcastle want to strengthen?
Newcastle are anticipating a high turnover of players – evidenced by the fact Howe had to leave Jamal Lewis, Ciaran Clark and Jeff Hendrick out of the 25-player Premier League squad submitted at the end of January – and it’s likely just as many players will go out as there will be coming in.
In January, the club inquired about two goalkeeping targets; Arsenal’s Bernd Leno and Manchester United’s Dean Henderson, and 90min understands that the pair remain key targets.
Arsenal are set to allow Leno to leave now they have a deal agreed to sign USMNT goalkeeper Matt Turner, while Henderson has made it clear to United that he wants to quit Old Trafford in search of regular first-team football.
The former Sheffield United loanee wasn’t allowed to depart in January, like United and England teammate Lingard, but 90min understands a loan deal with mandatory fee is in the offing this summer.
Central defense is also an area Newcastle would like to strengthen, having missed out on deals for Sven Botman, Nico Schlotterbeck and Diego Carlos in January.
Botman is close to sealing a move to AC Milan while Schlotterbeck has agreed to sign for Borussia Dortmund – but there’s still scope for Newcastle to move for Carlos, who would have moved in January had Sevilla been willing to do a deal.
He’s not the only player in Newcastle’s mind though, with Howe also a huge fan of Bournemouth’s Lloyd Kelly – a player he signed during his lengthy stint on the south coast.