Much of Newcastle United‘s success so far this season has been built on their rock-solid defensive unit, with Eddie Howe’s side having shipped just 11 goals in 20 Premier League games thus far – the best record in the division.
Despite that remarkable run of form, there does appear to be a lack of quality depth in the centre-back ranks, in particular, with there seemingly few options to compete with the current starting pairing of Sven Botman and Fabian Schar.
According to reports in Italy, however, one man who could well be a solution to that problem is Inter Milan rock, Stefan de Vrij, with DAZN journalist Orazio Accomando reporting that the Tynesiders have submitted an offer for the experienced Dutchman.
Further reports have also indicated that the northeast side are leading the way in the race for the 30-year-old’s signature, with the former Lazio “monster” – as lauded by ex-teammate Mauricio – able to sign a pre-contract agreement with just six months remaining on his existing deal.
The 59-cap defender – who was linked with a £15m move to St James’ Park over the summer – could well emerge as a notable upgrade for Howe and co, with his arrival allowing the club to part ways with struggling skipper, Jamaal Lascelles.
Such woes had seen Newcastle thrust into a relegation dogfight at the start of last term, with the 29-year-old having notably been dubbed “awful” by journalist Chris Conway following the 1-1 draw with Watford back in January 2022.
The long-serving asset subsequently went on to feature sporadically in the Premier League for the remainder of the season, with the current campaign having seen the 6 foot 2 man slide down the pecking order even further as a result of Botman’s arrival.
Now a peripheral figure under Howe, there had been reports prior to the start of the window that Lascelles could be one of a handful of players moved on by PIF this month, with that illustrating his diminishing status on Tyneside.
As such, the signing of De Vrij could well hasten the Englishman’s exit, with the latter man proving something of a liability in possession as he ranks in just the bottom 1% among his European peers for pass completion, while the Inter star ranks in the top 16% in that regard.
Equally, the former Feyenoord man is also superior as a result of his ball-winning prowess as he ranks in the top 12% for interceptions made, while Lascelles ranks in just the bottom 22% for that same metric.
Throw into the fact that De Vrij also boasts the benefit of having won major honours for his current side and it is easy to see why the £118k-per-week gem would be a clear improvement on the floundering Newcastle captain.