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Newcastle are set to embark on one of the biggest rebuilds in Premier League history, courtesy of their lucrative new ownership. The Magpies are currently sitting in 19th place in the league and manager Eddie Howe needs to turn things around quickly at St. James’ Park, and he will look to the January transfer window for a helping hand.
Howe’s side have been linked with top talent all over Europe, however, the risk of relegation to the Championship would deter some players who don’t want to hinder their progress by dropping a division.
The Magpies have recently been linked with Manchester United midfielder Donny van de Beek and PSG’s Georginio Wijnaldum, but that isn’t the only position that Howe is looking to strengthen this month.
The former Bournemouth boss is also keen to improve upon his current crop of defenders, recently being linked with Barcelona centre-back Samuel Umititi.
According to The Sun, Newcastle are lining up a £17million move for the 28-year-old, and their chances of signing the Frenchman have improved recently.
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Barca are keen to offload Umtiti due to how they are battling financial woes and need to decrease their wage bill, and with the aforementioned defender is currently on a £220,000-a-week deal.
However, the former Lyon man is testing the patience of the Catalan club as he has rejected a move to Fenerbahce recently, according to Spanish news outlet Sport.
The report goes on to claim that this is now the fifth transfer that Umtiti has rejected and Barcelona are beginning to ‘lose patience’ with the player.
The 2018 World Cup-winning defender wants one last chance at Camp Nou, and if he is then still told to leave then he only wants a move to another top club.
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The prospect of being at the start of a very new project and being relied upon heavily could prove very attractive to Umtiti, especially given the game time that he will be somewhat guaranteed.
Over the past three seasons, the Frenchman has only made 41 appearances and he has fallen to the bottom of the pecking order under manager Xavi.
Newcastle will be confident that they will be able to sign Umtiti this month, especially considering the finances shouldn’t be too great of an issue, and make him a central figure in their plans both this season and going forward.
However, despite the top-level experience, Umtiti would add to Howe’s squad, former Premier League forward Kevin Campbell believes that the Tyneside outfit should steer clear of the defender.
Speaking to Football Insider, Campbell said: “Injuries are a real issue for Umtiti.
“Throughout his time at Barcelona, the issue hasn’t been with his quality, it’s been with his health.
“Sometimes the best ability is availability. Newcastle should be looking to sign players who will be available regularly, and Umtiti has really struggled at times just to be healthy.
“Can I see that happening, especially for that price? No, I can’t – to be honest.”
It remains to be seen who Newcastle manage to sign in the January transfer window and whether they are able to build a team who can progress up the league table rather than simply just avoid relegation.
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