Eddie Howe's Newcastle United transfer playbook revealed

Eddie Howe joked that planning for next season was going to start on the coach back from Turf Moor.

Wednesday, 25th May 2022, 12:30 pm

“I just joked with someone that the planning starts on the coach back,” said Howe after Sunday’s season-ending 2-1 win over Burnley. “I had a rethink, and said ‘that can wait until tomorrow!’.

“It starts straight away. You have to, the Premier League moves so quickly, and the competition’s so strong, that you have to try and be ahead of the game. We’ll try and be sensible about what we do this summer. It’s a big time for us.”

Newcastle United, of course, have been putting together plans for 2022/23 some time.

Here, we look at Howe’s approach to transfers – and the club’s plans for the window.

Ashworth delay

The club had hoped to have Dan Ashworth appointed in time for the summer window.

Ashworth is on gardening leave at Brighton and Hove Albion after resigning from his post as technical director.

Newcastle United head coach Eddie Howe.

However, Newcastle, up to now, have not been able to come to an agreement with Ashworth’s club over compensation, and the 51-year-old isn’t expected to be able to take up a similar position with United until later this year.

Howe will again work with co-owners Amanda Staveley and Mehrdad Ghodoussi along with head of recruitment Steve Nickson.

Nicky Hammond was brought in on a short-term basis to do some work on player valuations ahead of January’s window, which saw five players arrive, and Howe, speaking earlier this year, felt that the ad-hoc transfer committee worked well.

“I think I said when first came in that, for me, appointing a sporting director is a matter of urgency for the club, because, I think, we need those structures that help the club improve, and, I think, we have a lot of improving to do behind the scenes to get to be the club we want to be,” said Howe.

Matt Targett joined on loan from Aston Villa in January.

"In the meantime, I’m more than capable of doing certain things, and the transfer window (in January) … I think the outcome has been very successful.

"I enjoyed the process of how we got to that outcome. Everyone did a really, really good job, so I’m more than happy to do that again.”

Early business

Howe, we know, likes to get his business done early, but that’s easier said than done.

January signing Bruno Guimaraes.

Premier League clubs are starting to announce their first summer transfers, but United, according to Howe, are not close to getting a player over the line ahead of the opening of the transfer window on June 10, though the situation could quickly change as the club starts to pursue its targets.

“We’re not close to signing anyone at this moment in time,” said Howe. “That’s far from the truth.”

What is true is that Howe wants as much of the club’s business to be done in the early part of the window.

Key positions

The club, which must work within the Premier League’s Profit and Sustainability rules, is prioritising a striker in a window which will be more about “evolution than revolution”, according to Howe. Brentford’s Ivan Toney and Stade Reims’ Hugo Ekitike are two potential targets.

United must also either sign loanee Matt Targett on a permanent deal – or sign another left-back.

The indications are that a new goalkeeper is also on the agenda, while other positions, especially in the attacking third of the pitch, could be strengthened too.

Howe, though, has lists of potential targets for every position – not just those which are a priority for him to strengthen. This will give him and the club the necessary agility in the market.

Nickson has identified targets in each area, and Howe and his staff have also suggested names.

In fact, Howe revealed that he was also open to recommendations from his players when asked about January signing Bruno Guimaraes’ keenness to see Newcastle sign Lucas Paqueta, his Brazil team-mate.

"I have signed players from many different sources over the years, many different ways,” said Howe. “I've never cut off any recommendation from anybody.

“But, of course, I'd have to go through the right process of watching and analysing the player to see if he's right for the team.”

Paqueta, certainly, is a player many fans would like to see at Newcastle, but the cost of signing the midfielder looks prohibitive – at least for now.

Outgoings

Howe – who said he’s prepared to be “creative”, as he had to be at times at former club Bournemouth, in the transfer market – has this week been briefing his players about his plans for next season.

United’s head coach must make room in his 25-man Premier League squad for new signings, and there will be a number of outgoings, though Howe, up to now, has refused to be drawn on the futures of individuals.

“It’s very difficult to comment or go into too much depth, because I respect my players too much to give out what will happen in the future,” said Howe.

"But I’d say there are players here who, potentially, have not maybe featured too much under me so far who could stay, and vice-versa, so we’ll wait and see."

Certainly, Howe is prepared to consider selling players who have been regulars for him – if their departures would allow him to strengthen the squad overall.

Due diligence

Howe was known at Bournemouth for doing extensive due diligence on signings. The 44-year-old didn’t just want players who could fit into his team, he also wanted players who would be the right fit for his dressing room.

Howe – who has already spoken a lot about the “character” of his United players – has brought this approach to Newcastle.