Newcastle to hold imminent ‘discussions’ over ambitious new target, with parallel to old Howe flame

Ansgar Knauff marking Josko Gvardiol

Josko Gvardiol is the latest defender to be linked with Newcastle United, who will reportedly hold talks about his transfer in the coming week.

Newcastle would seemingly like to sign another defender in the summer. Although they are playing down expectations of how much they may spend, they will still try to make some useful transfers.

After adding Kieran Trippier at right-back, Dan Burn at centre-back and Matt Targett (on loan) at left-back in January, their defence has been undergoing an evolution.

But that process has not finished yet. There is a feeling that they would like to reinforce further in the centre of defence.

In that regard, the Daily Mail have written that they will hold talks this week about their potential targets. Two defenders are named – and one is a new link.

The man in question is Josko Gvardiol, who has adapted well with RB Leipzig this season. The promising Croatian defender has been earning admirers across Europe with his development.

Previously a 2020 target for Leeds United, he has more recently been linked with the likes of Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City.

But according to the Mail, Newcastle United have now entered the running for the 20-year-old talent.

Josko Gvardiol playing for Croatia

Their scouting staff are preparing to meet to discuss the idea of bidding for Gvardiol, among many other targets for various positions.

They will have been attracted by his performances for Leipzig this season. After his integration into the first team following time back on loan at Dinamo Zagreb, he has amassed 36 appearances in all competitions.

Leipzig are on course to qualify for the Champions League, currently sitting fourth in the Bundesliga. But Newcastle may present him with a different route to the top to consider.

The Magpies are aiming to reach European level in the medium-term under their owners, led by the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund. They may have to wait a few years to get there, but being part of a project may be enticing for potential targets.

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At this stage, interest in Gvardiol is at its early stages. Therefore, there is no information about his thoughts about Newcastle as destination, nor an asking price.

What is public knowledge is that Leipzig have him under contract until 2026.

Newcastle keep Gvardiol alternative in mind

Gvardiol is a left-footed centre-back, which seems to be the profile of player Eddie Howe is targeting. Indeed, the same goes for the other defender mentioned by the Mail.

That man is Lloyd Kelly, whom Howe previously signed during his time managing Bournemouth. Due to injuries, he didn’t get to use him much.

But Kelly has recovered and become a consistent player in the Championship. He has captained Bournemouth throughout a promotion push this season.

There has been a theory for a few months that Howe wants to reunite with Kelly at St James’ Park. Whether with Bournemouth or Newcastle, it seems he is ready for the step back up to the Premier League.

The Mail concur that he is of interest to Newcastle. Like Gvardiol, he will be among the items of discussion when their scouting system meets up.

Kelly has two years left on his contract at the Vitality Stadium. Reports have claimed Newcastle could go in with an offer similar to the £13m Bournemouth gave Bristol City for Kelly back in 2019.

He may therefore be cheaper than Gvardiol, but Howe’s side are clearly keeping their options open.

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