Amid all the takeover talks, Newcastle United have suffered a setback in their effort to tie Rafael Benitez down to a new contract. The Spaniard has only a couple of weeks remaining in his current deal at Tyneside and is yet to agree to a new one despite prolonged talks with the management and owner Mike Ashley.
According to Tuttosport (as cited by Metro), Chelsea are considering a swoop for their ex-gaffer to succeed Maurizio Sarri. Confusion and scepticism are looming large at St James’ Park, but the Magpies are keen on new signings to bolster the squad for the upcoming campaign.
They are in the market for a fullback and have reportedly (as claimed by the Portuguese outlet Record) identified Benfica ace André Almeida as one of their prime transfer targets. Leicester City are also targeting the 28-year-old whereas both Everton and Tottenham Hotspur are keeping close tabs on the player’s status, the Sun reported last month.
Almeida has represented Portugal eight times and enjoyed a blistering spell the previous term having netted two goals and registering 12 assists in 53 appearances altogether (stats via Transfermarket) while featuring as the right-back. He not only contributed upfront but also exhibited a defensive composure and concentration while dealing with the opponent’s threats.
His impressive form has drawn the attention of many over a possible summer switch, but the Portuguese contracted until June 2021, won’t be allowed to depart on the cheap by the Primeira Liga champions. Clubs are likely to engage in a bidding war to secure his service and Newcastle, despite having Javier Manquillo and DeAndre Yedlin in their rank, are tipped to table an ambitious offer to wrap him up ahead of the other suitors.
Yedlin and Manquillo, both have been promising with their overlapping runs, crosses and attacking traits but lacked discipline at the back which led to errors throughout the campaign. The experienced Portuguese would help them to reduce the same, and his ability to feature as a left fullback as well as defensive midfielder would add much-needed flexibility with formations and set-ups.
Newcastle, nevertheless, must convince Benitez to stay to lure in transfer targets. Otherwise, it would be tough for them to enhance their quality and therefore, retain top-flight status considering the investment made by the league counterparts to survive a relegation scare.
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