Newcastle can end centre-back transfer search by signing Chelsea’s diamond in the rough

Striker Wood joins Newcastle

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Newcastle’s gruelling search for defensive reinforcements has not proved easy but the answer to their problems at the back may just have been staring them in the face all along. Since the completion of the £305million Saudi-backed takeover, the Newcastle hierarchy have been in agreement that this squad requires some additional Premier League experience in order to beat the drop.

Yet signing players from rivals has not proved easy – although Newcastle have now just landed Chris Wood after triggering his £25million release clause.

Prior to that, Burnley put the brakes on Newcastle’s hopes of landing James Tarkowski while West Ham have refused to sell Issa Diop.

Even Liverpool are continuing to dig their heels into the ground over Nat Phillips.

But there is one player – potentially up for grabs – that would fit right in and crucially, immediately improve Howe’s leaky backline.

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That is Chelsea’s Malang Sarr, a player who has been starring in the shadows of Thomas Tuchel’s side since the beginning of the season.

The former Nice centre-back spent last term on loan at Porto and nearly joined German side Greuther Furth on transfer deadline day last August before a move collapsed.

Chelsea managed to sign him on a free transfer from the French club upon the expiry of his contract.

At the time, the Blues believed they were getting one of France’s brightest young prospects as well as one of the best U21 defenders in world football.

However, Tuchel has been reluctant to hand Sarr opportunities but when he has played this season, he has rarely let his manager down.

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That was once again the case last night as Sarr slotted in effortlessly to play left-back in the Carabao Cup semi-final second-leg against Tottenham.

He was one of his side’s best players as he helped Chelsea keep Tottenham at bay for the second consecutive match.

With Chelsea currently on course to lose Antonio Rudiger, Andreas Christensen and Cesar Azpilicueta at the end of the season, it’s easy to see why the Blues may want Sarr to stick around.

But with competition for places fierce at the back in west London, there is every chance Chelsea would welcome the chance to loan Sarr out this January.

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The chance to play regularly Premier League football with Newcastle would also be of huge benefit to Chelsea, although they could argue they will need the 22-year-old’s availability in order to maintain a challenge on all fronts.

Despite still being relatively young in football terms, Sarr is not one to shy away from a challenge, something that was evident last night.

He was keen to make his physical presence count, flying into duels whilst also going head-to-head with Giovani Lo Celso on one occasion.

Sarr would represent an immediate upgrade on Newcastle’s current options at centre-back and while he may not be available on a permanent deal, a loan would immediately strengthen Howe’s leaky backline.

Slowly but surely, it’s become clear that Sarr is Chelsea’s diamond in the rough and now Newcastle have an opportunity to help the Blues polish a gem, providing Tuchel is willing to lend the player’s services.

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