Tonali arrival won't end Maddison pursuit – but will unleash Bruno


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Newcastle will rejoin Europe’s elite in the Champions League next season after a 20-year absence.

Eddie Howe’s men reignited the city with their twin charges up the Premier League table and to the Carabao Cup final last season – and the next challenge is to battle on multiple fronts.

Despite claiming fourth spot, there was a period in February where Newcastle’s campaign threatened to hit the buffers, so how are the club’s summer plans shaping up to ensure they continue to head in the right direction?

Sky Sports News reporter Pete Graves takes a look at the latest on-goings at St James’ Park…

How will Newcastle approach strengthening their squad this summer?

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The Transfer Show panel discuss Newcastle’s potential signings, including Sandro Tonali and James Maddison

Eddie Howe and the team at Newcastle have always spoken about phases. When they went for players like Matt Targett, Dan Burn and Kieran Trippier – that was phase one and it was ‘operation survival’ that season in the Premier League.

They were second from bottom so they needed to bring in players who had a lot of heart and Premier League experience to try to guide Newcastle away from the bottom three – which they did. They ended up finishing 11th.

Then, there was a second phase where we saw them go for players like Alexander Isak for higher transfer fees and players with a bit more of a reputation at European level but ones that were still based on potential. Anthony Gordon came in from Everton for big money, but they’re young players who could potentially grow into top players.

It’s the phase they’re still in, but this is probably phase three and I think we’ll see similar players brought in but almost heading towards a slightly higher profile. I don’t think they’re at the stage – which a lot of people thought they were going to be at – where they will start targeting players like Neymar and Kylian Mbappe.

For Howe and for Dan Ashworth in particular, and chief scout Steve Nickson, it’s all about build blocks slowly. They’re well ahead of schedule having got to a cup final and finished fourth last season shocked everyone – even those at the very top of the club.

Now, it’s about keeping everyone’s feet on the ground and continuing what they’ve started. They aren’t going to start spending huge transfer fees and offering huge wages to upset the applecart. They’ll continue to go at the same pace in their growth as we’ve seen so far.

What is the latest on the future of James Maddison? Could he join from Leicester?

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The Transfer Show team discuss possible destinations for Maddison, with both Newcastle and Tottenham expressing interest in the midfielder

We can’t rule out James Maddison coming to Newcastle yet. This idea that signing Sandro Tonali ends the pursuit of Maddison, I don’t think that’s true. They headed into this window outlining that they wanted a more defensive midfielder as well as a more attacking one.

I know the club would definitely still like to add an attacking midfielder and Maddison is an option. But they’re realistic. They’ve got a fee in mind and they’re not going to go beyond that. What Leicester need is a bidding war between two clubs.

They would love Tottenham and Newcastle to go head-to-head but I don’t think Newcastle are interested in getting embroiled in that. They’ve got an idea of a fee in mind – probably around £40m – and won’t want to go much beyond that.

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Eddie Howe praised his Newcastle team for maintaining a high level of performance through the season and wants them to be in a position to compete for silverware in the future

Leicester have said they want in excess of £50m so if Spurs are prepared to pay that then they might get him. The other thing is wages. Newcastle have got quite a strict policy when it comes to wages. The top earners are on around £120,000 a week.

Maddison is 26 and has one year left on his contract at Leicester. Rightly so, he’ll be looking for a big pay day as it could be the last big deal of his career. Whether Newcastle are willing to make him the highest-paid player at the club, I’m not so sure.

From a cost point of view, it might make Newcastle look elsewhere.

If not Maddison, then who?

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Sky Sports News reporter Michael Bridge says Newcastle are looking at top players from Serie A after reports that Eddie Howe’s side could target Federico Chiesa

They’ve scouted a whole host of players in that attacking midfield mould. We know they like Dominik Szoboszlai at RB Leipzig, and scouts have watched him extensively. He has a buy-out clause of around £60m but he’s 22 and his wages would be significantly less than Maddison.

They might weigh it up and decide that Szoboszlai is the better option. There have also been reports in Italy that they like Federico Chiesa at Juventus so maybe it’s a sign that they’ve started to look at alternative targets to Maddison.

How would Tonali arrival impact Bruno Guimaraes?

AC Milan's Sandro Tonali controls the ball during the Serie A soccer match between AC Milan and Sampdoria at the San Siro stadium, in Milan, Italy, Saturday, May 20, 2023. (AP Photo/Antonio Calanni)
Club officials are in Milan in talks over Sandro Tonali

Tonali fits the bill of someone who can play defensively. He’s quite dynamic as well. He’s one of those midfielders who can do a defensive job but he can play more advanced as well. I was watching him play for the Italy U21s on Thursday night and he gets forward, he gets up the line.

He’s all over the place and is in fact very similar to Bruno Guimaraes. I think they’re quite similar players and a lot of the Newcastle fans say that when Sean Longstaff was injured for large parts of the season, what it meant was that Bruno had to play more defensive.

The team lost his attacking abilities. When Longstaff played, it released Bruno and Newcastle were a much better team. What the club want is to bring another player into the midfield to help in that regard.

If the club sign Tonali, Bruno will have more of a licence to roam around further forward. As I feel they’re quite similar, you could see a situation where if one goes forward, the other sits. It’s really exciting.

Where else will Newcastle be looking to add depth ahead of Champions League campaign?

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The Daily Mail’s Craig Hope says that Newcastle will probably have to break their wage structure policy to keep Bruno Guimaraes at the club long-term

I definitely feel they will strengthen as well in other areas but it will be with younger players. They’re looking at a right-back and a left-back to provide competition for Trippier and Burn. They also want a centre-back to compete with Fabian Schar and a striker.

I expect all four of those positions to get covered by players who are young but still at an age where they can have an impact in the squad.

It’ll be similar to the signing of Anthony Gordon who is 21 years old and came straight into the first-team mix. At left-back, I know they’ve been linked with AC Milan’s Theo Hernandez. If they signed someone of his experience, they would have to let Matt Targett leave.

It’ll be important for them to bulk out the squad.

Any departures?

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Sky Sports reporter Keith Downie and senior football journalist Peter Smith take a closer look at how a top-four finish will affect Newcastle’s summer transfer window plans

Eddie Howe has got so much out of this current group and so there aren’t many he will want to sell that they could get a huge amount of money for. Allan Saint-Maximin is one you could potentially get a transfer fee for along with Targett.

What we’ve seen so far this summer with giving new contracts to the likes of Matt Ritchie, Paul Dummett and Mark Gillespie is that he really believes in the group and he’s not going to lose a player unless he feels that they don’t fit in, on or off the field.

Saint-Maximin is a tough one as I feel if they get a good offer for him, they might be tempted. They do have a luxury of wingers at the club at the minute and he hasn’t played as much as he has done under previous managers. He was the club’s best player for so long but Howe has come in and deployed a different system.

Players like Miguel Almiron and Jacob Murphy have emerged and had incredible seasons while Gordon will be given an opportunity next season having found his feet. Saint-Maximin has attracted interest in the past from abroad so he may be the one player that is sacrificed.

Follow the summer transfer window with Sky Sports

Who will be on the move this summer when the transfer window opens on June 14 and closes at 11pm on September 1 in England and midnight in Scotland?

Keep up to date with all the latest transfer news and rumours in our dedicated Transfer Centre blog on Sky Sports’ digital platforms. You can also catch up with the ins, outs and analysis on Sky Sports News.

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Alexandra Williams
Alexandra Williams
Alexandra Williams is a writer and editor. Angeles. She writes about politics, art, and culture for LinkDaddy News.

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