Eddie Howe reveals Newcastle United transfer 'must' this summer as club pursue Hugo Ekitike
The Premier League club’s pursuing a number of targets, including Stade Reims striker Hugo Ekitike and Bayer Leverkusen winger Moussa Diaby, ahead of the formal opening of the transfer window on Friday.
Howe and the club’s recruitment team, as in January, will delve into the character of potential signings, just as they did in January.
Dan Ashworth, set to join the club as sporting director after Newcastle agreed compensation with Brighton and Hove Albion, will lead the club’s efforts in the transfer market.
Howe, United’s head coach, pointed to the impact Bruno Guimaraes made following his mid-season move when asked about the importance of getting the right replacements for those long-serving players set to leave the club this summer.
Long-serving duo Matt Ritchie and Isaac Hayden – who joined the club six years ago following relegation to the Championship – are among those expected to leave Newcastle in the window.
"It's vitally important that anyone we recruit understands what it means to play for the badge, for the club, and carries that burden that it brings but in a positive way,” said Howe.
“All the players we brought in January have done that. You see the passion in Bruno after the (Arsenal) game.
“You see his feelings of positivity when winning the game. He knows, he has that feeling inside of him that you need to play for Newcastle.
“We’ll take that very seriously, and anyone we bring in needs to understand when they enter the building here what it means to everybody."
Newcastle, taken over last October by a consortium led by Amanda Staveley, signed five players in January at a cost of more than £80million in an attempt to stave off the threat of relegation – and the investment paid off as Howe guided the team to an 11th-placed finish.
The challenge now is to identify players who can take the club to the next level over the coming seasons.
Asked if the summer would be as “intense” as the last window, Howe said: "Better off asking that after in retrospect, because it's very difficult to predict.
“January was very difficult for a whole host of reasons. It was very intense, and, I think, linked to our league position, to be honest.
“It created a necessity to act and to do things and, thankfully, it was very successful, but this is a different window.
“Now we start again, we start afresh, but we have work to do so it will be interesting to see how it pans out."
United tried and failed to sign Ekitike in January, and the club is again trying to sign the 19-year-old, who scored 10 goals last season.
Speaking in April, Reims president Jean-Pierre Caillot said: “We refused an offer of €35million this winter, which is a lot of money for a club like ours.
"That money will be used to grow and improve the club. Hugo will be allowed to go – and he’s probably going to leave.
"There wasn’t a big club that didn’t inquire for him.”