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Midfielders Newcastle should target instead of James Maddison

Newcastle’s £40m bid for James Maddison last summer was openly mocked by Leicester City.

Then-manager Brendan Rodgers could barely contain a snigger as he said: “It’s not for me to put valuations on the players, it’s not my side, but that might just cover three-quarters of his left leg, that price.”

A year on, with Rodgers out of the door and the Foxes in the Championship, Maddison was sold for £40m. However, it was Tottenham that nabbed the English playmaker rather than Newcastle.

With the club’s first season of Champions League football in two decades looming, Newcastle have to bolster a squad that finished fourth last term despite a wobble in Spring. Here are some of the alternative midfielders Newcastle could target after Maddison’s snub.

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Fenerbahce v Basaksehir - Turkish Cup Final

The Turkish teenager is the talk of the transfer window / Seskim Photo/MB Media/GettyImages

Age: 18
Club: Fenerbahce

If the sudden craze around Arda Guler this summer has caught you by surprise, don’t feel too bad – the toast of the transfer rumour mill has only made 20 club starts in his entire senior career.

Nevertheless, in the limited game time he has been afforded for Fenerbahce, the wriggly left-footer (his father trained him to favour his left side as soon as he could walk) has emerged as one of Europe’s brightest talents.

Barcelona are hopeful of securing a deal for the ‘Turkish Messi’ with Real Madrid also interested. A rumoured release clause of £15m ensures that money is no object but Newcastle could offer Guler first-team football straight away, slotting into Howe’s three-man midfield where Maddison would have played or as an alternative for Miguel Almiron on the right.

Gabri Veiga

Newcastle are not the only Premier League club interested in Gabri Veiga / Angel Martinez/GettyImages

Age: 21
Club: Celta Vigo

Across Spain’s top flight, Gabri Veiga was the only midfielder to hit double digits for non-penalty goals. If Newcastle are to push on from last season’s fourth-place finish, they will need to sharpen their cutting edge; five clubs, including Maddison’s new team Tottenham, outscored the Magpies last term.

While fans should not expect Veiga to necessarily replicate his scoring feats (the midfielder’s 11 goals came from an xG of 6.1) he will offer another presence in the attacking third.

Newcastle face fierce competition from Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester City for the signature of a hot prospect that has a €40m release clause.

Teun Koopmeiners

Teun Koopmeiners scored ten league goals from midfield last season / BSR Agency/GettyImages

Age: 25
Club: Atalanta

As a strong advocate against forcing young kids into routines of professional footballers from a young age, Teun Koopmeiners may not look too kindly at the prodigious acceleration of Guler and Veiga.

At 25, the Atalanta midfielder is an option that offers an extra layer of maturity and security. Koopmeiners’ former national team manager Louis van Gaal succinctly outlined his strengths: “overview, insight and a good kicking technique.”

A regular Liverpool target, Koopmeiners can play in any midfield role and has thrived in the exhaustive pressing system Gian PIero Gasperini employs at Atalanta. This grounding could help Koopmeiner limit the adaptation process which Eddie Howe’s signings have been forced to undergo.

Khephren Thuram

Khephren Thuram made his senior international debut for France in March 2023 / Sebastian Frej/MB Media/GettyImages

Age: 22
Club: Nice

While he improves his ability to halt opposition surges, Khepren Thuram launches far more of his own as he regularly embarks upon barrelling runs right through the middle of the pitch.

The 6’3 midfielder, whose father Lilian won the 1998 World Cup and his brother Marcus played in last year’s final, is comfortable across a range of roles. At his best under Didier Digard at Nice, Thuram thrived in a side that had space to counter-attack into. Howe’s set-up on Tyneside would suit him; only Manchester United launched more forward thrusts in transition than Newcastle last season.

Dutch Cup final"AFC Ajax Amsterdam v PSV Eindhoven"

Ibrahim Sangare missed his penalty but PSV still won the shootout to claim the KNVB Cup in April / ANP/GettyImages

Age: 25
Club: PSV Eindhoven

Newcastle’s failure to capture Maddison could prove to be a blessing in disguise. With the impending arrival of Sandro Tonali, Newcastle have already snagged an extra option as a number eight in Howe’s 4-3-3.

However, if the Magpies could lure Ibrahim Sangare away from PSV Eindhoven this summer, they would be able to unshackle Bruno Guimaraes from his defensive berth at the base of midfield.

The towering Ivory Coast international has spent three years dominating the Eredivisie and signed a new contract with PSV last year. However, Sangare was reportedly unimpressed with the unexpected resignation of manager Ruud van Nistelrooy in May and could join him in the departure lounge if Newcastle make a compelling offer.

On this week’s edition of Talking Transfers, part of the 90min podcast network, Scott Saunders is joined by Toby CudworthGraeme Bailey and Sean Walsh to discuss Mason Mount’s impending move to Man Utd, Arsenal’s various deals, Liverpool’s pursuit of Dominik Szoboszlai and more! 

If you can’t see this embed, click here to listen to the podcast!



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