Newcastle United transfer Q&A: Joe Willock and Freddie Woodman futures discussed – and are NUFC close to a summer breakthrough?
Newcastle United’s first pre-season friendlies take place on Sunday – and yet, the Magpies are still to strengthen their squad ahead of the new season.
Here our writers Liam Kennedy and Miles Starforth give their thoughts on the summer so far...
How close are Newcastle United to making a breakthrough in the transfer market?
LK: “I see a lot of talk about how the takeover uncertainty is having a major impact on getting deals done this summer, with some rumours doing the rounds that there’s been a block on incomings until there is a decision. That is not my understanding. United will do deals and are working on things. How close a breakthrough is, though, I do not know.”
MS: “I think we could well see a breakthrough in the coming days. The market will start moving now following the conclusion of Euro 2020, and we’ll start to see deals getting done. Bruce will want the club to do as much early business as possible.”
Does it feel unusual they're yet to make any signings, with the season just four weeks or so away?
LK: “United were slow last summer, and the summer previous. They were slow during Rafa Benitez’s time at the club, and before that, too. This lack of early activity is not uncommon. They only sparked into action with a Middlesbrough hammering and injury to Dwight Gayle last summer – and those signings were only brought in just before West Ham on the opening day anyway. It’s not quite panic stations yet.”
MS: “It’s not that unusual given we’ve had an international tournament this summer, though the club needs to start getting deals done. Time is now of the essence with the pre-season programme starting this weekend.”
Do you think Joe Willock might end up back at NUFC?
LK: “Fresh talk has surfaced this week and it sounds like there is a willingness on all sides to do a deal. A season-long loan deal would suit all parties. And while there has always been a positivity Willock would end up back at Newcastle, there’s still work to be done on this one.”
MS: “I think there’s a strong chance. Mikel Arteta wasn’t particularly convincing when he said Willock was “part of his plans” after last night’s defeat to Hibernian, and Newcastle looks to be the obvious destination for him.”
How many players do you think Steve Bruce will sign this summer?
LK: “I think United will look to strike at least three deals this summer. A defender is high up on the list of priorities, as too is Willock.”
MS: “I still think the club needs at least three of four new faces, even though we now know Federico Fernandez is staying. The squad needs to be freshened up and improved.”
And who do you think is closest to the United exit door?
LK: “Florian Lejeune is a player United are looking to move on, while Freddie Woodman, Matt Ritchie and others have question marks about their future.”
MS: “To me it looks like Freddie Woodman could be the first out of the door. I understand that he’s not in Bruce’s plans for the coming season.”