Three defenders Newcastle United should target this summer

A sub-par backline has contributed to a concerning slide down the Premier League table for Newcastle United as Eddie Howe seeks help from the summer transfer market to solve his defensive woes.

It has been a tricky season for Newcastle United, and there is little getting away from that. The Magpies have endured a season to forget overall, with their results in both the Premier League and Champions League not up to scratch.

Where Eddie Howe’s initial impact at St. James’ Park was a stunning transformation from a relegation-battling side to competing in the Champions League and making it to a Carabao Cup final, things have stalled lately.

Indeed, there have been growing pains this time around. Despite the many millions PIF have in their bank lockers, FFP constraints have limited what the club have been able to do in the transfer market. An injury crisis has also derailed plans for this season, and Newcastle United are at risk of falling out of the top half of the Premier League.

Although injuries have been a fair excuse for Eddie Howe, with the manager constantly having to make do without so many key players available, the regularity at which their goal is being breached is alarming. They boasted the joint-meanest defence in the Premier League last season.

But the Magpies have seemingly become so easy to play through, shipping a whopping 19 goals, while keeping just a single clean sheet over the past nine games in all competitions. What is more, Howe has yet to demonstrate that he has an effective tactical solution, with the porousness extending across a three-month period.

All of the above scrounge leads us perfectly to the conclusion that they will surely need to strengthen their defence this summer. Even before the terrible news about Sven Botman, there were few defensive options at the back. The defender, who has already been out with a major knee injury this season, suffered another setback earlier last week.

Though Jamaal Lascelles has performed admirably at times, there is reportedly still a chance he leaves this summer despite only recently signing a new contract. Fabian Schar, meanwhile, surely isn’t getting any younger at the age of 32.

The options behind those names do not exactly fill Newcastle fans with confidence, with either Dan Burn or Emil Krafth operating centrally. Here, The Hard Tackle lists three options that Newcastle can consider for a summer purchase: adding quality, bringing competition, and being a right fit for the club under Howe.

It is worth noting that due to financial fair play, there isn’t huge headroom to invest in the way the club did in the first two transfer windows, so it’s imperative we include a couple of bargain options on our three-man list.

Marc Guehi

It will take a princely sum to lure defender Marc Guehi from Crystal Palace. But Newcastle United could be his best possible destination in terms of the regular minutes on offer and the potential to rise with the club. A contender for the England squad for Euro 2024, a positive tournament could boost the Chelsea academy graduates’ price tag.

One of the Premier League’s most highly coveted young centre-backs, Guehi is an excellent defender and extremely comfortable with both feet. His leadership qualities have seen him named Palace’s captain on several occasions this season.

Still only 23 years of age, the Englishman has proven himself in the Premier League over a consistent period of time and is ready for the step up. Perhaps more importantly than anything, given Newcastle’s rotten luck with injuries of late, he is a robust and athletic option in terms of not getting injured often, missing just nine games across four years.

Guehi could represent a brilliant option for Newcastle United this summer, ticking so many boxes for the Toon, even though Crystal Palace will understandably demand huge money, including the English homegrown premium for his signature, possibly above the £50 million mark.

Aside from the steep pricing, Newcastle will likely face stiff competition for Guehi from Liverpool, who are reported to have already opened talks for a big-money summer swoop.

Tosin Adarabioyo

While Marcu Guehi could cost a huge fee, someone who Eddie Howe could sign for a much cheaper outlay is Fulham defender Tosin Adarabioyo. There has been heavy interest in the services of Adarabioyo, and a number of clubs in England, including Liverpool, and around Europe have sounded out the possibility of a pre-contract deal, with his contract expiring in the summer.

A former Manchester City prospect, Adarabioyo, is finally realising his potential in west London. He has been key to the club’s success under Marco Silva and has played 14 times in the league this season after returning from injury in November.

The 6ft 5in left-sided central defender has a calm presence on the ball that is absolutely essential under Eddie Howe and has been praised for not only passing ability but also the skill to carry the ball out of the defence and towards the halfway line.

His long-passing could also help bridge the gap from defence to attack, with his strength and aerial ability also fantastic attributes to have at the top level. Quick and pacy, he has also earned a penchant for being strong in the tackle and boasts good positional awareness and reading of the game in defensive situations.

Newcastle United could get a bargain if they persuade the former England Under-19 international to join for free. A move for Adarabioyo could be seen as sensible business from the Toon, given their FFP predicament.

Lloyd Kelly

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Initially, Newcastle will have been looking for a right-sided centre-back to play alongside Botman. But there will be a fear that his injury may force Toon officials to bring in another left-sider who can eventually replace Dan Burn’s lanky left-back profile.

Ever since Eddie Howe’s arrival at St. James’ Park, Newcastle United have been linked with Bournemouth defender Lloyd Kelly. And it could be a third time lucky for the Tyneside-based club after failing to land him in previous transfer windows.

The 25-year-old will leave the Cherries this summer after reaching the end of his contract at the Vitality Stadium. In total, he has made 119 appearances for the Cherries, scoring two goals and registering seven assists. Kelly has carved a niche for himself as a reliable performer in the Premier League for the Cherries and has put in a string of strong performances for Andoni Iraola’s side so far this season.

While Kelly has a number of Premier League clubs keen on his signature, including Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool, and overseas sides like AS Monaco and VfB Stuttgart, Newcastle hope to have the edge over other suitors.

The promise of a prominent role and the chance to work under a manager he knows well in Howe could prove to be far too appealing a prospect to turn down. What makes Kelly an attractive proposition from a tactical perspective is his ability to adapt to multiple defensive roles, being proficient as a left-back and a centre-back.

His ball-playing skills are particularly appealing for teams that favour a possession-based or quick counter-offensive style of play, making him a tactical fit for clubs like Newcastle United. The financial part is something that should prompt the Magpies to get the deal sorted ahead of others.

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