Steve Bruce shouldn’t rue Crystal Palace holding preliminary talks to sign Newcastle United target Radu Dragusin of Juventus.
According to the Evening Standard, Eagles chiefs have held preliminary discussions with Dragusin to sound out the defender’s interest in a pre-contract agreement.
The 19-year-old is set to leave the Allianz Stadium as a free-agent this summer and thus is able to begin negotiating potential deals with would-be suitors, of which the Selhurst Park natives are not alone.
Corriere dello Sport, via Sport Witness, reported earlier this month that Newcastle and Bundesliga side RB Leipzig are also keen on the centre-half, who has earned Andrea Pirlo’s backing at Juventus despite his low ranking in the Turin pecking order.
The Old Lady are also said to be confident that a potential new contract can be thrashed out, and that an agreement to stay with the Serie A giants can be achieved quickly.
However, the Evening Standard add that Dragusin is keen to play more regularly having only made four first-team outings for the Bianconeri this term, of which his mere two starts each came in the Coppa Italia before being benched for both Semi-Final legs against Inter Milan.
Pirlo handed Dragusin his senior debut against Dynamo Kyiv during a Champions League Group Stage tie in December, before awarding the Romania U19 international a one-minute cameo at Genoa CFC for his only taste of Italian top-flight action to date.
Pirlo played with some of the best centre-backs in modern football history in Paolo Maldini, Alessandro Nesta, Thiago Silva and Giorgio Chiellini, so he knows a good defender when he sees one, thus Dragusin must at least have some potential to catch the Italian’s eye.
However, there can be no guarantees that Dragusin is either ready to make the step-up to first-team football or if he will make the step up successfully, having only played 231 minutes of senior action to date in his, albeit brief, career.
The teenager’s appearances in the Coppa Italia were also heavily focused on the right-hand side of the pitch rather than through the centre, and saw Dragusin offer little consistency to merit a place in either Semi-Final encounter with Inter Milan.
Against Genoa, Dragusin impressed over the full 120 minutes as the tie went to extra-time, with a 100% duel success rate thanks to winning all five ground contests and each of his three aerial challenges, per SofaScore. He also took a mammoth 111 touches, completed 89% of his 92 passes, made four successful tackles and four interceptions, while never committing a foul.
Yet against SPAL, as Juve won 4-0, Dragusin could only win one of his six ground duels and was beaten in the air during his only contest, while completing just 38 of 45 passes. He further made just one successful tackle and was dribbled past three times, committed a foul and offered two interceptions.
Among Newcastle’s current crop of defenders, only Jamaal Lascelles (0.79), Fabian Schar (0.75) and Paul Dummett (0.67) offer less than one successful tackle per game in the Premier League, while Dragusin would rank first for interceptions and second for fouls committed. Federico Fernandez (2.25), Schar (2.13) and Ciaran Clark (1.71) offer the highest number of ground duels won by Toon centre-backs.
So, if Palace are moving to beat Newcastle to the punch and sign Dragusin, there’s no guarantee that he would be able to make the move a successful one. Instead, he could be just another Achraf Lazaar.
Newcastle released Lazaar at the close of the recent winter transfer market, having made just 10 first-team appearances in four-and-a-half-years at St. James’ Park following a £2m move from Serie A side Palermo.