Saudi’s Mohammed bin Salman tried to land Moussa Diaby for Newcastle

Carabao Cup final place not enough for Eddie Howe and Newcastle

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The Saudi Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman, reportedly had a role to play in Newcastle’s transfer business in January. The Magpies splashed the cash on winger Anthony Gordon as the window came to a close, though it has emerged that he wasn’t the first-choice forward at St James’ Park.

The Magpies are currently third in the Premier League after an impressive start to the season, with Eddie Howe’s side reaping the benefits of their strong defence and balanced midfield. However, if he is to guide the club to the Champions League, he will need his forwards to be more influential.

Howe’s frontline has struggled with injuries so far this season, forcing players such as Miguel Almiron to step up. The former Bournemouth boss thus made it his mission in January to add depth to that department, signing Gordon in a deal worth £40million plus add-ons.

Though BILD journalist Christian Falk has revealed that the 21-year-old was pursued after Mohammed bin Salman had deemed Bayer Leverkusen star Moussa Diaby was unattainable. He told Caught Offside: “I heard Newcastle said that he’s a good option for the club, so they passed their shortlist on to the Sheikh, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who has his own scout in Germany.

“He had to check if Diaby was a possibility they could explore. Ultimately, they saw that it wouldn’t be an option for the winter, so they went for Anthony Gordon. In summer, however, Diaby could be easier to sign.”

Diaby has been in sensational form in the Bundesliga so far this season, scoring six and assisting three in 18 league appearances. The France international’s form has caught the eye of numerous top clubs, with Arsenal also a long-term admirer, though Newcastle will be hoping to secure his signature in the summer – though it could come at a significant price given Leverkusen he will not be sold unless his £88m release clause is met.

Gordon will be hoping that he can hit the ground running at St James’ Park so that further attacking additions are not a priority at the end of the season. Former Newcastle shot-stopper Shay Given believes that the Ebgland Under-21 international will learn plenty under Howe and could prove a smart piece of business.

He told Sky Sports: “I am not surprised because he’s a top player. Not so long ago, Chelsea wanted to sign him for £60 million, so if the figures are right, £40 million, then I think it’s a good deal for Newcastle

“He’s 21 years of age, he’s got a massive future ahead of him, and with Eddie Howe, he’s got the right coach and manager to get the best out of him and to improve him as a player. It’s a massive transfer not just for January but for the course of the whole season. Newcastle already have a really good squad, and now they have a very good squad.”

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