Brentford are closing in on a £13.5m deal to land Celtic’s Kristoffer Ajer. The 23-year-old was Steve Bruce’s preferred center-back option. Newcastle were hoping they could get the Norwegian on board early for around half that fee.
Bruce is keen on adding a young center-back to the first team. Last season, he made an attempt but fell short in loan bids for Arsenal’s Rob Holding and Schalke’s Ozan Kabak. With a transfer budget of just £10m, it’s gearing up to be a struggle this time around as well.
The top priority is getting Joe Willock back on loan. The 21-year-old will fill one of Newcastle’s domestic loan slots. Mike Ashley doesn’t seem bothered to even attempt a permanent deal for the midfielder.
So that leaves Bruce with just one domestic loan slot available should we get Willock back to St. James’ Park with plenty of holes left to fill. Bruce reportedly also wants to add another midfielder with Leicester City’s Hamza Choudhury and Chelsea’s Conor Gallagher considered serious options.
If Bruce does add a second midfielder on loan in addition to Willock, his budget will most likely go towards a defender. There are a handful available within Bruce’s budget. Tottenham’s Cameron Carter-Vickers is an obvious choice at around £5m.
Both Kabak and Valencia’s Mouctar Diakhaby, due to their club’s dire financial shape, have seen their reported price tags drop below £10m. Though the best option may be Manchester United’s Axel Tuanzebe, though he is probably only a realistic target as a loan signing.
It could be that Bruce just sticks with what he’s got at the back. There’s plenty to choose from with seven center-backs on the books including Kelland Watts. In fact, Bruce potentially has to trim what he already has before this campaign kicks off.
Newcastle have yet to make a bid for any first-team signings. The Academy has added three players in Remi Savage, Charlie Wigget, and Cameron Ferguson. The only reported bid has come for Wolves defender Dion Sanderson, who was seen as one for the future.
The 21-year-old spent last season on loan with Sunderland, who had a £1m bid rejected early in the window. Newcastle followed that up with a very low bid that was also rejected. Wolves have been trying to tie Sanderson down long-term with his contract running out in 2022.
The Mail is reporting that Sanderson has now agreed on a new long-term deal at Molineux and will head to Birmingham City on loan for next season.
Birmingham manager and former Magpie Lee Bowyer has all but confirmed the loan signing telling BBC Radio the following:
“We are hoping that that will get done soon.
“Something has been agreed but he’s just coming back from injury so we are making sure everything is right on the medical side.
“It’s another good addition to the squad.”
Newcastle have missed out on yet another of this summer’s reported targets. We’ll head into Sunday’s split-squad friendlies at York City and Harrogate Town with no new faces on board.
However, we could get a glimpse of some of the new youngsters as Bruce said the following about playing some of the U23s in tomorrow’s friendlies:
“We’ve got two at the weekend. We want to give everybody in the squad at least 60-70 minutes. We’ll break the squad up and we’ll get the U23s down as well.
“We’ll do it as an exercise of what we want in terms of minutes into the players’ legs.”
The friendly at York City will be streamed for free on NUFC TV. It kicks off at 2PM.
? Sunday's pre-season friendly at York City will now be streamed for free live on NUFC TV and our official YouTube channel.
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