Eddie Howe makes no apologies for Newcastle’s no-nonsense approach to winning
Newcastle could turn their attention to alternative midfielders playing in the Saudi Pro League after the Premier League’s recent vote. The Magpies are desperate to bolster their central midfield in the January transfer window and replace Sandro Tonali in the short term, who is ruled out following a ban imposed for breaching gambling rules.
Al Hilal star Ruben Neves has been cited as a top target at St James’ Park, but The Athletic report that the ex-Wolves player is expected to remain in the Middle East. A loan move was viewed as the best-case scenario but Newcastle will now look at alternative options.
All 20 Premier League outfits voted on whether to ban loan deals between clubs with the same ownership group on Tuesday. Thirteen voted for the ban to be imposed, meaning that the proposal fell one vote short of the 14 required to halt such business. As such, Newcastle can freely look to loan or buy players from Saudi teams in January, and there are several options they can pursue instead of Neves…
Gabri Veiga (Al Ahli)
The Spanish midfielder was heavily linked with a move to England over the summer before opting to head to Saudi Arabia and Newcastle could offer the playmaker a taste of the Premier League. The ex-Celta Viga star, now at Al-Ahli, is an incredibly versatile option and would tick plenty of boxes for Eddie Howe given that he is keen to add depth in several departments.
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Sergej Milinkovic-Savic (Al-Hilal)
Milinkovic-Savic was heavily linked with a move to Newcastle previously, and the Magpies could look to secure his signature in January – though he too plays for top-of-the-table Al Hilal who are unlikely to want to lose him. But the ex-Lazio star has the European experience required to slot into Howe’s side and replace Tonali seamlessly, whilst also adding a goalscoring threat.
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Franck Kessie (Al-Ahli)
Kessie has annually been linked with a move to England over the years, but there is now a clear opportunity for Newcastle to prise him to St James’ Park. The former Barcelona playmaker is starting to find his feet in the Saudi Pro League and showcase his talent, but he could certainly be an option with Al-Ahli adrift of the top two.
Gini Wijnaldum (Al-Ettifaq)
There would be something rather poetic about Wijnaldum coming to the rescue of his former side. The Dutch midfielder has struggled over the past few years with Roma and PSG but a return to familiar surroundings may provide him with the spark he needs to find his best form. Wijnaldum made 38 appearances for Newcastle before he left the club in 2016 and such a move could tempt him to depart Steven Gerrard’s squad a bit earlier than planned.
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