Premier League • England

Newcastle told to avoid Liverpool man in January as pundit points to Howe concern

Takumi Minamino, Divock Origi, Curtis Jones Liverpool

Pundit Kevin Phillips reckons Newcastle should move their transfer focus away from Liverpool striker Divock Origi.

The Belgian has been at Anfield since 2014, notching 38 goals in 165 appearances for the Reds in all competitions. His most important strikes came in the stunning Champions League semi-final comeback against Barcelona two years ago.

His 79th-minute goal sent Liverpool into the final of Europe’s elite club competition. Origi was on the scoresheet again versus Tottenham as Jurgen Klopp’s side lifted the famous trophy.

Origi is now a backup for the likes of Mo Salah, Sadio Mane and Diogo Jota. He will fall further down the pecking order once Roberto Firmino returns from a hamstring injury.

Newcastle are potential suitors for the 26-year-old, partly due to their £305m takeover. It gives them the funds to complete a deal, should Liverpool be open to selling.

The Magpies find themselves bottom of the Premier League table after 13 matches. They could do with some added quality for the second half of the campaign.

But Phillips thinks manager Eddie Howe should look to improve a different part of his squad.

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During an interview with Football Insider, the former striker said: “Origi would be a good signing but I really don’t see that being an area of concern.

“It would cost them a lot and I think it’d be hard to sign him midway through the season. Liverpool haven’t got the biggest squad. They will be reliant on the likes of Origi when the African Cup of Nations comes around in January.

“Let’s be honest, Newcastle are crying out for two defenders at least.

“If they want to stay in the Premier League they need to shore up that defence. That has to be the priority when the window opens. Defenders are crucial if Newcastle are to stay up.”

Newcastle enter race for Liverpool target

Meanwhile, Italian outlet Calciomercato report that Newcastle are eyeing up Portugal midfielder Renato Sanches.

The 24-year-old has been linked with Liverpool, Wolves and Arsenal in recent weeks. But Howe’s side are ready to battle the trio for his signature.

A deal should cost around €35m (£30m). And it seems Sanches is keen for a major transfer to go ahead. During a recent interview, he said: “Maybe Milan and Arsenal are interested but I don’t know.

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“I spoke with my agent, I know which clubs are calling and which are not, but I can’t tell now. I know I’m ready.

“If an offer comes in, I’ll find out what’s best for me.”

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