The Newcastle United transfer message – and what it means for Lucas Paqueta
Paqueta’s arrival on a private jet, understandably, got fans talking ahead of the summer transfer window.
The midfielder – who flew in on Tuesday to visit Bruno Guimaraes, who had scored Newcaslte United’s second goal against Arsenal on Monday night – is exactly the type of player supporters would like to see arrive at the club in the coming windows.
Paqueta posted a photograph of himself, Guimaraes and their partners on the Quayside on Instagram.
United’s owners, Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, could certainly afford Paqueta’s £58million fee – but the club itself, which must work within the Premier League’s Profit and Sustainability rules, would struggle to finance such a deal.
The club’s priority this summer is a striker, and a move for Paqueta would all but wipe out its entire transfer budget for the window. Other positions also need strengthening, and Newcastle must also make a decision on on-loan left-back Matt Targett, having agreed a £15million buy option with Aston Villa in January.
Eddie Howe, speaking to journalists this week, said expectations ahead of the window must be “realistic” given the constraints of financial fair play.
United’s commercial income stagnated during Mike Ashley’s time as owner, and it will take time to increase these revenue streams.
"Because of financial fair play, there has to be realistic expectations on what we can spend,” said Howe.
“Our income, at the moment isn't as big as we want it to be in the future, so that impacts our ability to spend. For those people that think it's a vast sum of money, well, it's wrong.
“It doesn't mean we can't improve the squad, but it'll have to be bit by bit. It can't be an overnight thing, and that's due to the fact we need to expand revenue streams.”
The club signed five players in January, among them Guimaraes and Kieran Trippier, without breaking its wage structure.
Howe, big on dressing room unity, simply won’t sign a player on double what his highest earner already takes home, so many of the high-earning names being linked with the club can be discounted.
The wage structure will have to increase incrementally over time.
Howe could increase his budget by moving players out of the club, but those set to leave will not command the kind of fees that would finance a signing like Paqueta.
The club’s most saleable player is arguably Allan Saint-Maximin, and Howe, we know, is a manager prepared to make tough calls if those calls will, overall, improve the squad. In his words, he can be “creative” in the market.
Saint-Maximin, hugely popular on Tyneside, would be a very hard player to replace – and the winger himself this week claimed that the “best is yet to come” from him at United.
As far as a striker goes, Stade Reims’ Hugo Ekitike and Brentford’s Ivan Toney, sold by United in 2018, are options, but neither would be cheap.
Paqueta’s visit caught the imagination of fans, but the odds, at this stage, are seemingly against him joining Guimaraes at Newcastle given the club’s transfer priorities.
That said, things can change – and the window hasn’t even opened yet. For once never say never at United.