Steve Bruce could potentially save Newcastle United at least £8.5m in the summer transfer window by unleashing Florian Lejeune over a move for UC Sampdoria defender Omar Colley.
According to Club Doria 46, the Toon are one of four Premier League sides monitoring Colley’s situation at the Luigi Ferraris Stadium ahead of the summer market.
The Blucerchiati are expected to make Colley available for a transfer at the end of the season, despite the 25-cap Gambia titan proving to be a pillar of Claudio Ranieri’s backline.
Since being recalled to the line-up in November after carrying his struggles from a difficult 2019/20 campaign into the current term, Colley has played all but 20 minutes over 17 of Sampdoria’s last 20 Serie A fixtures.
The Genoa-based outfit believe Colley’s efforts have added an extra couple of million to his valuation, and now intend to demand in the region of €10-15m (£8.5-£12.5m) to sell amid mounting Premier League interest.
After failing to get a deal done last year, Fulham have continued to track Colley’s efforts but are now likely to face competition from Newcastle as well as Leeds and West Ham United.
The Irons, along with Celtic and Leicester City, were linked with the Gambia international in 2020, but no offer delivered to Sampdoria exceeded €6m (£5m) while the Serie A outfit demanded around €10-12m (£8.5-£10m).
Colley was awarded a new four-and-a-half-year contract in January, but the deal is not seen as a hurdle for any side wishing to sign the 28-year-old.
Much can change between now and the end of the season at Newcastle, with relegation to the Championship a distinct possibility and a change in leadership also on the cards with the pressure firmly on Bruce.
And even if Bruce stays and manages to keep the Magpies in the Premier League, the St. James’ Park outfit will still be expected to operate on a shoe-string budget this summer, which could make efforts to sign Colley all the more challenging.
But Bruce could look to save the £8.5-12.5m that it would take to sign the Sampdoria star in order to strengthen elsewhere, as United still have Lejeune on the books and the Frenchman has been impressing while on loan with Deportivo Alaves.
Lejeune has earned rave reviews for his efforts in Spain, with La Liga writer Andrew Miller lauding the 29-year-old for being a “life-saver” for Alaves against FC Barcelona earlier in the season.
The CIES Football Observatory have also recognised Lejeune as Alaves’ best player of 2021 so far, which could leave Newcastle in an interesting position come the summer when he enters the final year of his £38,000-per-week contract.
Lejeune’s efforts in La Liga have often been to a higher standard than Colley’s Serie A displays, too, with the former France U20 international averaging 1.51 tackles per 90 to the Gambian’s 1.41, per FBref.
Colley further trails Lejeune for average tackles made against dribblers (0.2 to 0.61) and blocks made (1.41 to 1.67), along with success in the air due to a 63.6% win rate to the Newcastle man’s 66.1% for respective records of 63/99 and 72/109.
It remains to be seen if Bruce is willing to offer Lejeune another chance at St. James’ Park, but the 2022 free agent could save Newcastle millions compared to signing Colley.