It turns out that Newcastle manager Alan Pardew was scouting in Austria over the weekend.
Axel Witsel – 22 year old Standard Leige defensive midfielder
And the Newcastle Journal is reporting today that Alan was watching the Belgium National side, that included Standard Liege midfielder Axel Witsel, in their 2-0 win against Austria, and Axel scored both goals.
The 22 year-old is a defensive midfielder, but he can also play on either wing, and so he fits the profile of a utility player Pardew has talked about bringing to the club in the summer.
Alex has played 111 times for Standard Leige with 22 goals, and already has 17 caps for Belgium with 5 goals.
Chief scout Graham Carr was scouting in France, which Newcastle seem to be covering more than any other country, and assistant manager John Carver was at the Ireland game, when they beat Macedonia 2-1.
It’s interesting that potential goalkeeping target Kieren Westwood of Coventry played in goal for Ireland in that game, in the absence of Shay Given.
Newcastle will again be concentrating on players of 26 years-old or younger, who can still improve on Tyneside, and whose value should rise.
Good examples of players already signed that fitted that profile perfectly are Cheick Tiote and Mike Williamson. Both players were signed within the last 15 months and their values are so much higher than when they signed for Newcastle, for a cumulative £4.5M – peanuts.
Good deals to be sure.
This is what Alan Pardew said about Newcastle’s scouting:
“You scour Europe and you hope you can bypass other clubs like Marseilles, Aston Villa, Everton and Tottenham, who are maybe in the same bracket as us,”
“When the season ends and we are a Premier League side for next year, we will step up our recruitment, but we won’t be bringing two players in straight away.”
“We have to wait, pitch in with these teams, and see what unfolds. But from conversations I’ve already had with players and players’ agents, I already know of players that want to come here.”
“The size of the fan base makes a difference.” “Here, our players have an opportunity to play in front of 50,000 every week and you have to be inspired by that.”
So that good rumor, reported by both the Newcastle Journal and the Sunday Sun, that Newcastle would be signing two International players as soon as the transfer window opened – seems not to be true.
Well that’s a pity, because that was potentially good news, and could have helped persuade some of our current players, like Joey Barton and Jose Enrique, to stay on Tyneside.
It’s hardly going to help either one if Newcastle don’t sign anybody until August, because they’ll have to make decisions on their futures before then, and they will need to see some evidence of Newcastle’s ambition.
We had hoped the Journal and Sunday Sun would have some inside information, but we guess not.