Newcastle eye up £17m ex-Man Utd target as Eddie Howe eyes defensive reinforcements

Ralf Rangnick previews Newcastle United clash

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Newcastle are reportedly eyeing a £17million January transfer deal for former Manchester United target Samuel Umtiti. The Barcelona defender is out of favour at the LaLiga giants and the club are apparently keen to offload. 

Just like in the summer, Barca will need to balance their books if they are to strengthen Xavi Hernandez’s squad.  

They are already set to seal a surprise move for Manchester City forward Ferran Torres. 

One of their stars likely to leave is centre-back Umtiti. The France World Cup winner earns a reported £220,000 per week. 

Removing that money from the wage bill would ease the pressure on Barca’s stricken finances.  

Man Utd were previously interested in a transfer for the 28-year-old. In the summer, then-boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer wanted a new partner for defender Harry Maguire. 

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The Red Devils signed No 1 target Raphael Varane from Real Madrid. However, Spanish outlet Mundo Deportivo claimed that the club were also keen on Umtiti. 

With Varane settling into life at Old Trafford, it is unlikely that interim coach Ralf Rangnick will revisit the club’s former interest. 

That could leave Newcastle with a free run at Umtiti. According to the Mirror, Eddie Howe wants defensive reinforcements and could turn to the experienced star to help plug their leaky back four.  

Newcastle have conceded over 40 goals in 19 Premier League matches and are in danger of being cut adrift from safety. 

The Magpies have the unique advantage of being able to spend vast amounts in the January transfer window. Their Saudi-backed owners are widely believed to be happy to provide Howe with a large transfer budget to help the new boss steer clear of danger.  

But the reality of Newcastle’s situation is that they are 19th, three points from safety and have won just once all season. They will be six points behind Leeds if Watford win both their games in hand.  

Howe has urged his attacking talents, including Allan Saint-Maximin, to build better relationships in a bid to improve their form. His side have only managed 18 goals so far this season.  

“It is not aimed at Maxi, it is aimed at everyone. One of the ways that we work is that we attack with relationships,” he said.  

“The only way you build those relationships is through repetition of training, so attacking with everybody together as a team when you know what each other are going to do. It’s a huge advantage.

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“We have started that work. That work is going on every day. I have seen some good things in training.  

“We probably haven’t seen as much as we’d want in the matches, but that could possibly be down to the two teams we have faced in recent matches (Liverpool and Manchester City).  

“We have not had a lot of the ball, so we’ve been mainly counter-attacking in the games. But I’m looking forward to seeing that work come out in the future.  

“Maxi is part of that, as everyone is. You can’t attack as individuals. It is not as effective as when you attack together.”
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