The Athletic have revealed FOUR players Newcastle are tracking in Steve Bruce’s bid to bring a ‘powerful box-to-box midfielder’ to the club this month.
Linked are Strasbourg powerhouse Ibrahima Sissoko, Spartak Moscow star Alex Kral, Lille’s Thiago Maia and teammate Boubakary Soumare – although Chris Waugh’s piece accepts the latter is highly sought after and ‘highly unlikely’ to arrive.
Here’s a snippet from his latest report for The Athletic on Steve Bruce’s search for ‘energy, physicality and athleticism’ in our midfield engine room:
The Athletic understands that the third position the head coach has identified as requiring immediate upgrading is central midfield. That is why Newcastle’s ambitious interest in Granit Xhaka of Arsenal leaked out in November.
Bruce desires energy, physicality and athleticism from his midfielders. Although his current crop boast some of those characteristics collectively, Newcastle are still searching for balance in the middle of the pitch. They have yet to find a happy equilibrium between being solid in midfield, but also threatening, something predecessor Rafael Benitez struggled with at times, too, particularly once Mikel Merino’s form collapsed.
To address this, Bruce hopes to bring in either a powerful box-to-box midfielder or a creative player who can play centrally, to supplement his options.
Besides Xhaka – a player Bruce rates and who he would have liked to sign on loan, even if such a deal never appeared realistic – Newcastle’s recruitment department have watched a host of midfielders on the Continent in recent months.
One of those is Strasbourg’s Ibrahima Sissoko, who has impressed Newcastle; the 22-year-old remains raw but his ability to drive forward with the ball is a quality which has endeared him to scouts. Spartak Moscow’s dynamic midfielder Alex Kral (above) has also come up in conversations as the type of player Newcastle require.
Lille’s Thiago Maia has repeatedly been linked, too, while his team-mate Boubakary Soumare is among Europe’s most sought-after midfielders, though that makes a move to St James’ Park highly unlikely.
A few names to watch our for, although it’s fair to say Soumare is probably a non stater given he’s been linked with a big money move to some of Europe’s top sides.
Sissoko and Kral seem realistic options, however, with both being at good ages (22 and 21 respectively) and rated at around the £10m mark.
We have options in Shelvey, Hayden and the two Longstaff’s, but we’re yet to replace Mo Diame and lack that box-to-box midfielder and driving force that’s needed in a counter-attacking side like ours.