The perfect solution to the defensive issues at Newcastle could come from Barcelona after a remarkable report revealed they have already turned their back on the player.
If Eddie Howe is to guide Newcastle away from the threat of relegation, he must find a way to plug their leaky defence. Newcastle have shipped a league-worst 37 goals so far this season. That has ensured they possess the league’s second-worst goal difference despite outscoring top half sides including Tottenham and Wolves.
With untold riches at their disposal, all eyes will be on where Newcastle splash the cash. However, according to the Daily Express (citing Spanish outlet Sport), a high-profile signing from Barcelona could arrive for nothing.
They reveal France international Samuel Umtiti could be the perfect solution to their defensive woes.
Umtiti, 28, has fallen out of favour at the Camp Nou. He had regularly been an unused substitute under former manager Ronald Koeman.
The change to club legend Xavi had seen little improvement – though he was handed his first league start of the season last weekend.
Still hamstrung by their colossal debts, Barcelona are seeking to offload sizeable chunks of their wage-bill in January.
Umtiti – who reportedly pockets around £208,000-per-week – is a prime candidate they wish to axe.
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With those wages, potential suitors are in desperately short supply. Newcastle, however, will be unfazed by high salaries.
Given the centre-half still has 18 months remaining on his deal, Barcelona are aware shifting him won’t be easy. In order to help facilitate an exit, it’s speculated he could be allowed to leave for free in January.
Umtiti already gone in Barcelona’s mind?
Adding further fuel to the fire is an extraordinary claim. It’s reported Barcelona have already begun to refer to Umtiti as an ‘ex-player’.
Umtiti had been earmarked by Rafael Benitez as an ideal candidate to reshape his Everton backline over the summer. Predictably, his high salary meant a deal did not materialise.
But with finances not an issue at St. James’ Park, we could soon see Umtiti grace the Premier League next month.
Newcastle cast striker net far and wide
Meanwhile, Newcastle are not just looking at expensive, top-tier targets for their new era after reportedly scouting several players – including an in-form striker – at a recent Championship clash.
A report from the Newcastle Chronicle reveals that they recently sent scouts to watch a game between Luton Town and Fulham on Saturday. The Championship fixture ended as a 1-1 draw.
The representative was tasked with keeping an eye on a range of players. But one who gets a mention as someone they made notes on is striker Elijah Adebayo.
The 23-year-old joined Luton from Walsall in February. After making the step up from League Two to the Championship, he scored five goals in the second half of last season.
This year, he is flourishing, having scored 10 goals from 20 games in the second division so far. One of those was in front of Newcastle’s scouts in the clash with his former side Fulham.
Adebayo is out of contract at the end of the season, so there could be plenty of interest in his services. Newcastle would fancy their chances in a bidding war, though, if they feel he is worth it.