Mark Douglas has poured cold water on Newcastle’s potential moves for Ollie Watkins and Said Benrahma, saying that the Toon will have “other priorities” this summer.
However, Douglas believes that the two will not be priorities for Steve Bruce and Co this summer. In a Q&A with The Chronicle, he said: “Given Newcastle’s policy is going to be two or three big, high calibre signings every summer (if you take Lee Charnley’s last transfer statement anyway), I think they’ll have other priorities (most likely overseas).”
Clearly, the Toon are looking to add top quality to their squad. In January, for example, they attempted to take Boubakary Soumare to St James’ Park, a player who had previously been linked with Manchester United and Chelsea, whilst they also captured Danny Rose, a Champions League finalist, on loan. The Bees duo are both Championship players – they have limited experience, at best, at the highest level.
However, they are two players who have been in stunning form this campaign in the second tier. Benrahma has nine goals and six assists in 28 games so far, whilst Watkins, with 20 goals and three assists in 31 matches, is the division’s second-highest scorer. Only West Bromwich Albion (57) have scored more than Brentford’s 53 in the league – the attacking duo have contributed heavily to that.
The Toon, it seems, are ready to spend big after years in the wilderness. It took them 14 years to break their transfer record of £16m paid for Michael Owen in 2015 but, after Miguel Almiron was brought in for £20m, it took them just six months to break their record again for Joelinton. The bid for Soumare, it was said, was even bigger than the one parted with for the Brazilian – times may be changing on Tyneside.
As such, Championship players are indeed unlikely to be on their radar. That doesn’t mean they don’t have quality, though – Newcastle must make sure they sign the right star players rather than just big names.