Newcastle United may turn to Freiburg’s defensive powerhouse Nico Schlotterbeck after having a bid rejected for Lille’s Sven Botman.

According to Sky Sports journalist Dharmesh Sheth (via HITC), Newcastle United are now eyeing up a move to sign Nico Schlotterbeck in the January transfer window as their pursuit of Sven Botman becomes increasingly difficult.

With the positive news that Newcastle have reached an agreement with Atletico Madrid to sign Kieran Trippier, the defensive makeover is well underway on the Tyneside. A new central defender is likely to be the next arrival in line, with reports suggesting that Newcastle are scouring the market for two new centre-backs.

A whole host of players have been linked with the Toon over last month, including Bournemouth’s Lloyd Kelly, Burnley’s James Tarkowski, Arsenal’s Rob Holding, Sevilla’s Diego Carlos, Liverpool’s Nat Phillips, and Tottenham’s Joe Rodon. However, Dutch sensation Sven Botman was identified as a priority target, with the Magpies subsequently tabling a lucrative €35 million deal for the Lille defender.

Unluckily, for the Toon, their proposal was rejected outright, with the reigning Ligue 1 champions reluctant to lose their star. Although discussions with Lille are ongoing, Newcastle could well turn their attention elsewhere if they can not get a deal over the line for Botman, with Freiburg’s highly-rated Nico Schlotterbeck being the latest name on Magpies radar.

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After progressing through the youth ranks at Karlsruher SC, Schlotterbeck joined Freiburg’s academy system in 2017 and has not looked back since. He broke into the Freiburg senior team in early 2019 but did not have his breakout campaign until after a year-long loan spell at Union Berlin.

Regarded as one of the best defensive prospects in the Bundesliga, he has been a key part of Freiburg backline that has only conceded 16 goals in the first half of the current campaign, the joint-lowest figure in the division alongside Bayern Munich.

And the 22-year-old has stats to back his quality defensive output. Standing at 6 ft 3in, he wins just over 3.5 aerial duels per 90. He ranks in the top 10 percentile of central defenders in the Big five European league’s for tackles and interceptions, while his excellent technical abilities allow him to be a vital asset surging forward from the back.

He is also a classy operator at the back. His left foot comes in very handy distribution-wise and to make progressive passes. Overall, he has shown all the qualities of blossoming into an all-round top quality centre-back.

With Botman being the prime target, Howe appears to be looking for a left-footed centre-back this month as a direct replacement to Ciaran Clark, whose individual mistakes have cost the Toon dearly in recent weeks. Similar to Botman, Schlotterbeck will add youthful exuberance to Newcastle’s defensive roster, and his ball-playing qualities will suit Howe’s possession-based style of play.

Newcastle are not the only club interested in Schlotterbeck, with Real Madrid also expressing an interest to secure the services of the bright talent. With the 22-year old entering the final 18 months of his contract, it remains to be seen whether the Magpies step up their pursuit for the German prospect or turn to other potential alternatives.

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