The media storm surrounding rumours that Newcastle are looking to sign Lille midfielder Thiago Maia continue unabated. This is in spite of reports that the bid has been rejected and further press releases that he is “very happy” playing for Lille. The 21 year old has rapidly become the troubled team’s star player, but when many of those troubles are of the financial variety, the idea that each man has his price is almost certainly the factor that is keeping the speculation alive.
The final throes of transfer fever – for now
They call it silly season, and the fact is that every transfer window seems a step sillier than the last. That pattern has certainly continued this year, and the World Cup will come as something of a relief. Pundits, fans and tipsters will have to tear their eyes from the transfer markets and instead focus on the World Cup 2018 odds. At least, that’s what they will do until the middle of June, when the world cup will come to a halt and attention will again return to the final frantic weeks as the transfer window starts to swing closed.
What’s gone wrong at Lille?
Football teams sell top quality players all the time, and for a variety of reasons. Sometimes it is connected with the balance of the team, and occasionally it comes down to personalities or playing styles just not working out. But in the case of Lille, there is one reason and one reason only why they would part with the midfielder who has made such an impact since joining the club 12 months ago: Money.
Not to put too fine a point on it, Lille are in dire financial straits. Since acquiring the club at the beginning of 2017, Gerard Lopez has thrown vast sums of money into overhauling the squad, which attracted the attention of the financial authorities. This led first a transfer ban in winter, and now the club has been told to stump up €25 million to avoid enforced relegation to Ligue 2.
Lille would be looking to realise at least the £11 million they paid for Maia on signing the Brazilian talent from Santos last year – and if they can get a little more on top, it will provide half of the funds that they need.
More about Maia
Thiago Maia was born in Boa Vista, a city to the north of Brazil, close to the Venezuela border. At the age of 13, he was signed by Sao Paulo on a youth contract, and a year later he moved on to Santos. He made his debut for the first team at the age of 17, and soon became a regular, scoring three goals in 72 appearances, before catching the eye of Lopez.
The idea that he would form a fundamental part of Lopez’s grand new Lille certainly seemed realistic in his first year, when he made 32 appearances. However, given the deteriorating situation at the French club, a move now seems almost certain. And if the rumours are to be believed, Newcastle’s first offer might not have been its last.