Newcastle thwarted as talks open for deal to deny Howe major transfer wish

Ben Mee challenging Christian Benteke

Newcastle United look set to miss out on one of their first defensive targets for January after Ben Mee opened talks over a new contract with Burnley, according to a report.

Earlier this month, it was claimed that Eddie Howe wants his new side to sign Burnley captain Mee and his centre-back partner James Tarkowski. The Englishmen have formed a reliable partnership at Premier League level in recent years.

Defence is an area Howe wants to upgrade to give himself the best chance of steering Newcastle to safety. He is targeting two signings and one idea was to take them both from the same club.

However, it quickly became apparent that such a double deal would not be easy. Despite Newcastle being able to double the salaries of Mee and Tarkowski, convincing Burnley to sell would be a difficult task.

There is a feeling that other Premier League clubs are reluctant to do business with Newcastle after their Saudi-backed takeover. Even if not, Burnley would be running a risk by letting two of their key players go to a direct relegation rival.

Currently, the two sides occupy 18th and 19th place in the table. Burnley are one point above Newcastle and have played one game fewer. They will not be wanting to give the Magpies any chance of catching up with them as they too look to escape the drop.

Now, work is being done to keep Mee in particular away from Newcastle’s clutches. According to Telegraph reporter Mike McGrath, writing in his transfer notebook, Burnley have opened talks with their captain about his future.

Ben Mee during Liverpool v Burnley

His current terms last until the end of the season. However, the Clarets have the option to extend the deal by a further year. Rather than exercising that, though, they want to enter fresh negotiations about a long-term deal.

Mee, 32, has been with the club since January 2012. He has made 365 appearances since then and seemingly has many more to add.

Although not letting slip Newcastle as a suitor, McGrath writes that Mee “would be expected to attract interest” if his situation was not resolved. Burnley are thus hoping things will progress as they wish.

Pontus Jansson linked to several Premier League clubs

Brentford captain Pontus Jansson has been linked with Everton, Leicester and Newcastle.

The situation with Tarkowski, though, is less clear. He is also out of contract at the end of the season. But Burnley cannot fall back on an automatic extension option in this case.

Tarkowski has already been considering his future and could start negotiations elsewhere next month. Burnley look unlikely to keep him in the long-term. Still, they would prefer to do so until the end of the season rather than cashing in.

They would then miss out on a transfer fee as his contract came to an end. But his importance to the team is such that it may be a financial risk worth taking to help them stay up.

Newcastle likely to be busiest during an unusually-hectic January transfer window

Newcastle turn to Ben Mee alternatives

As for Newcastle, it means they must turn their attention elsewhere in the short-term. One alternative could be Sven Botman of Lille.

Transfer reporter Fabrizio Romano recently revealed Botman is now at the top of Newcastle’s wishlist.

The Dutchman helped Lille to the Ligue 1 title last season. He is currently playing at Champions League level, but has been linked with a move away from his current club.

According to the Italian journalist, the Magpies are “seriously interested” in taking the 21-year-old in January. In fact, he is “top of the list” when it comes to their targets.

For now, though, it remains a waiting game to learn the conditions of the transfer. Newcastle do not yet know how much Lille want for Botman, or if they are even willing to sell him at all.

Furthermore, they are facing competition from AC Milan. The Serie A side need to replace Simon Kjaer after he suffered a long-term injury.

Milan are now “keeping tabs” on Botman as they aim to plug the gap in order to continue their title challenge.

They would seemingly be a more attractive option than Newcastle in the short-term. But money talks and the prospect of a brighter future at St James’ Park may help convince some players to sign up.

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