Newcastle United need to pull their socks up to sign Aston Villa loanee Matt Targett permanently, with Fulham opening talks to sign the English left-back.

According to a report by the Northern Echo, newly-promoted Fulham have joined the race to sign Aston Villa left-back Matt Targett this summer, with Newcastle United still weighing whether to activate the 26-year-old’s £15 million buy option following a successful loan spell at St. James’ Park.

A product of the Southampton academy, Targett left his parent club Aston Villa on a temporary basis in the January transfer window after two and a half years to join Newcastle United after Villa signed Lucas Digne from Everton as their first-choice left-back.

The Englishman refused to play second fiddle and headed out to Newcastle United on deadline day in search of regular football. The Magpies were suffering towards the foot of the table at the time, but their winter additions made the intended impact. And Targett’s performances have been a major factor in Eddie Howe’s side’s ability to steer away from relegation peril and surge up the Premier League table.

The 26-year-old has been an absolute revelation during his loan spell at St. James’ Park and has made the left-back spot his own, playing every minute for the Toon except their 1-0 home victory against Villa, where the English full-back was ineligible.

Targett has been an energetic presence up and down the flank but predominantly shone with his astute defending and understated ball-playing abilities, for which he deserves a lot more recognition. His arrival, coupled with the acquisitions of Kieran Trippier and Dan Burn, has totally changed Newcastle’s defence from one of the worst in the division to a competent top-half unit since the turn of the year.

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Targett has also quickly become a fan favourite among the St. James’ Park faithful thanks to his heroic defending and excellent crossing abilities. As a result, the majority of Newcastle fans will be hoping that the 26-year-old left-back stays with the club beyond this season.

It all made sense when reports emerged that Targett landed on Tyneside with a £15 million buy option inserted into the loan deal, with Newcastle expected to follow up with an offer for a permanent deal in the summer. But recent reports have cast doubt over that being the case anymore.

The Northern Echo claims that Newcastle are exploring other more attacking left-backs, with a heavy interest in Atletico Madrid’s Renan Lodi. At the same time, Bayer Leverkusen’s Mitchell Bakker is another option under consideration.

That has led to talk of Fulham stealing a march on Newcastle in pursuit of the prized Aston Villa full-back. The London giants are understood to have made initial contact with Aston Villa and Targett’s entourage over a potential summer move to Craven Cottage.

Fulham are looking to strengthen their squad ahead of their return to the top-flight. At left-back, Marco Silva currently has Joe Bryan and Antonee Robinson at his disposal, but both of them have previously failed to prove their mettle in the Premier League. So, signing an experienced Premier League proven full-back option like Targett could go a long way towards solidifying the London giants’ backline.

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