Reports emerged last week suggesting that Newcastle United were “closing in” on a deal for Manchester United stopper Dean Henderson, with talks believed to be taking place regarding a possible loan deal, albeit with a permanent move not off the table.
The 25-year-old had come close to a deadline day switch to St James’ Park back in the winter window, although the loan deal ultimately collapsed with current number one Martin Dubravka rejecting the chance to head in the other direction.
Although the deal is not yet confirmed, it would appear that the Englishman is edging ever closer towards a move away from Old Trafford, having failed to usurp teammate David De Gea as the Red Devils’ first-choice stopper.
In truth, however, had it not been for an unfortunate absence due to the pandemic at the start of the season, it may have been the one-time Sheffield United loanee keeping his place in between the sticks under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, having ended the previous campaign with a string of league starts.
After two almost wasted years back at his parent club, some on Tyneside may have doubts over whether the £40m man is the right fit to be their starting stopper moving forwards, although the Whitehaven-born star’s form at Bramall Lane is seemingly enough evidence to calm those nerves.
In his two year stint with the Blades, Henderson helped Chris Wilder’s side to promotion to the top flight, before impressing in his debut campaign at the top level, conceding just 33 goals in 36 games and making 13 clean sheets – the fourth-highest in the division.
Dubbed “insane” by former teammate Sander Berge, the one-cap international is a player tipped to go right to the very top of the game, with it seemingly not too much of a risk should Howe and co secure his services.
His arrival would also allow the northeast side to part ways with not one, but two of their current assets, with the aforementioned Dubravka and his understudy Karl Darlow in need of a fresh start.
Darlow, in particular, appears in desperate need of regular game time having failed to nail a regular starting berth since joining the club in 2014, with his 25 Premier League starts in the 2020/21 campaign something of an anomaly owing to an injury to Dubravka.
He also failed to take his chance earlier this campaign, with club legend Alan Shearer insisting he looked “really nervous” following the 3-3 draw with Brentford on home soil.
As for the Slovakian stopper, he has largely been Eddie Howe’s first choice since replacing Steve Bruce, making 26 starts this term and shipping just 35 goals, although has been known to drop the odd clanger or two, notably being dubbed “poor” by pundit Tim Sherwood for an error against Brighton a few months ago.
Equally, at 33, the £4.5m-rated ‘keeper is perhaps not the long-term fit that PIF are after, with Henderson offering both potential longevity and quality to Howe’s ranks.
It may be a bold move to dispense with two stoppers this summer, although the club can get their combined £63k-per-week wages off their books, as well as offering the pair the chance at more regular minutes elsewhere.