Steve Bruce is set to make a major first summer signing after one of his main targets for the transfer window asked his club for a move to Newcastle, reports suggest.
Bruce is set to be working with a more limited budget than most of his side’s Premier League rivals in the market. However, the veteran manager has experience and wisdom than his younger counterparts do not possess. Therefore, if anyone can make it work, he can.
Shopping savvy is the name of the game. For example, the Magpies are close to signing a promising young centre-back for just £5m.
In addition, the free agent market offers options. Celtic midfielder Olivier Ntcham has been a target, although he recently made his transfer intentions clear.
Loan moves are another alternative to keep the spending down. When it comes to these arrangements, one man has been top of the list.
And that man is Arsenal’s Joe Willock. The midfielder made a massive impression in the north east when he joined in the winter transfer window until the end of the season.
Following Willock’s seven goals in each of his last seven games, Bruce was very keen to extend his stay at St James’ Park.
This has been reinforced by 90min.com. They report Willock has been told he is free to leave for next season by Arsenal. In response, the 21-year-old has asked to go back to Newcastle.
The report also states the Gunners are wanting to include a £15m obligation to buy in the loan deal.
This may yet prove to be a sticking point in the negotiations, although it is a very generous valuation for the promising youngster.
Willock alternative up in the air
If the deal does get done, it remains to be seen if Bruce would persist in pursuing Watford’s Will Hughes.
The Sun journalist Alan Nixon claimed the 63-year-old was in transfer “talks” with Hughes as an alternative to Willock.
When a move for Willock looked difficult, Bruce begun to look elsewhere with a £12m deal for Hughes on the agenda.
The report claimed Newcastle could look to use midfielder Isaac Hayden as part of any deal to lower the price.
The possibility of signing both attack minded players was not mooted at the time. Therefore, it is unclear whether the interest will be ended or not.