According to the Northern Echo’s Chief Football writer Paul Fraser, Rafa Benitez has centre-backs Kasim Nuhu (Young Boys), Gian Marco Ferrari (Sassuolo) and Ben Gibson (Middlesbrough) on his radar as he looks to replace Chancel Mbemba.
Mbemba’s move is yet to be finalised, but it was reported just a few days ago that he was in ‘advanced talks’ to seal a move back to Anderlecht – and it seems Benitez has already earmarked these three centre-backs as potential replacements.
Here’s a snippet from Paul Fraser’s latest piece for the Echo:
“RAFA BENITEZ is exploring ways to shore up Newcastle United’s defence and has identified two towering centre-backs as potential replacements for Chancel Mbemba.
“The Magpies are open to offers for Mbemba and there is talk of a £4m offer from Anderlecht being in the offing.
“And with Benitez already clear in his mind that he wants a different option at the back, Newcastle’s recruitment team are putting in the calls to see what it would take to land their targets.
“Ghanaian defender Kasim Nuhu and Italian centre-back Gian Marco Ferrari are under consideration, while Middlesbrough’s Ben Gibson has previously caught the eye of Benitez.
“At this stage Nuhu and Ferrari, with Young Boys and Sassuolo respectively, are in sight. Nuhu, 22, is a 6ft 3in defender and the Swiss club would have to listen to offers in the region of around £8m for him. Reports in Ghana have suggested Huddersfield and Tottenham have also been keen.”
Gibson is a new link and solid defender who looks set to leave Boro after another failed attempt to earn promotion, however I A) think he’d cost too much to come in as an Mbemba replacement and B) think he’ll be pushing for first-team football – but don’t think he’d get that regularly here for as long as Lascelles and Lejeune perform.
Ferrari was described as a potential ‘option’ by the Chronicle just a few days ago, however it’s Nuhu who’s the most interesting link at this stage.
We’ll take it with a pinch of salt for now, but FootballGhana.com claimed yesterday that we’d made ‘big progress’ in our bid to sign him, suggesting an £8m deal could be in the offing after talks.
Is there any centre-back in particular you’d like to see sign as a replacement for the departing Mbemba?