According to Daily Mail journalist Craig Hope, the Magpies had made an enquiry regarding a late move for the Swiss international, although it would appear that the 25-year-old won’t be arriving at St James’ Park on deadline day.
Writing on Twitter regarding that interest, the transfer insider stated: “Newcastle still exploring potentially one loan deal. Calls made this week re Arsenal’s Ainsley Maitland-Niles & Juventus midfielder Denis Zakaria, although told that isn’t happening. West Ham defender Harrison Ashby also still on radar.”
Missing out on the 40-cap Switzerland gem will no doubt be a real source of frustration for Newcastle manager Eddie Howe, with the 44-year-old seemingly in need of a new midfield addition to help bolster his current squad.
The Magpies have been left somewhat bare in the centre of the park following the recent injury absence of Bruno Guimaraes, with former Liverpool playmaker Jonjo Shelvey currently facing a lengthy stint on the sidelines after undergoing hamstring surgery.
Having also allowed Isaac Hayden to join Norwich City on loan earlier this summer, the Tynesiders are currently lacking a real defensive-minded asset in midfield, with Zakaria seemingly a quality figure who could have filled that void.
An imposing presence at 6 foot 3, the £24.3m-rated ace compares favourably to those in his position across Europe’s top five leagues, notably ranking in the top 8% for blocks made and the top 18% for clearances made.
By contrast, current Magpies man Sean Longstaff – who lined up at the base of the midfield in the narrow defeat at Anfield last night – notably ranks in just the bottom 43% for blocks and the bottom 9% for interceptions, while even the aforementioned Guimaraes only ranks in the top 26% for blocks and the top 48% for interceptions.
That would indicate that Howe’s squad is sorely lacking a true ball-winning powerhouse such as Zakaria, who can provide protection for the back four, with their inability to get a deal over the line potentially set to come back to bite them.
Unless there is to be a surprise late twist, it looks as if this pursuit is well and truly over for PIF.