This statement signing 'ticks every box' for Newcastle United and Eddie Howe
Normally, deals for strikers are the one that really capture the imagination on Tyneside.
Yet a defender has got Newcastle United fans excited.
Kieran Trippier is due on Tyneside today for a medical after the club agreed a £12million deal, plus add-ons, for the 31-year-old, who is in the final six months of his deal at Atletico Madrid.
Trippier had waved goodbye to fans in Madrid on Sunday, when he played in a 2-0 win over Real Vallecano.
One young supporter held up a banner, which read: “Trippier stay! You're a great soccer player."
Trippier’s mind, however, was already made up, and he applauded all four sides of the Wanda Metropolitano Stadium, before leaving the pitch for the last time as an Atletico player.
The right-back, in the England side which was beaten in the Euro 2020 final last year, ticks so many boxes for United, a club which hasn’t had a Three Lions player in its team since Andros Townsend's short spell on Tyneside in 2016.
Trippier is a big upgrade in his position, and he will also offer something in the final third of the pitch, both in terms of deliveries and set-pieces. He’s also versatile, and can play at left-back, if needed.
The Bury-born player’s vocal on and off the pitch, and will bring leadership and experience to the team and dressing room.
Just as importantly, he wants to be here.
The Gazette understands that Trippier was sold on a move to Newcastle some time ago. It was just a case of how quickly the club could agree his exit with Atletico, the team he has served for the past two and a half years following a £20million move from Tottenham Hotspur.
Trippier knows the club and the area through family connections, and he also knows Eddie Howe, United’s coach, having played for him at Burnley earlier in his career.
Their relationship will be important. Trippier will already know what Howe, appointed in November, demands from his players, and this should hasten his assimilation into the starting XI.
Howe spoke of his admiration for Trippier while Bournemouth manager in 2018.
“I’m so proud of his development – and so pleased for him,” said Howe. “He’s a great lad, and I really enjoyed working with him. He was a positive guy, wanted to do well, had a point to prove and was desperate to succeed.
"His dedication to improve his crossing and work on his free-kicks – he used to do that a lot at Burnley. He is one of the best crossers of the ball I have ever worked with, without a doubt. It was natural to him, and he set up so many goals for us.”
Trippier returns to England at his peak, and this looks to be the right signing, at the right time, for Howe and Newcastle.
It’s a long time since the club, now 80%-owned by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment fund following October’s takeover, signed a player of Trippier’s calibre – and this deal would have been inconceivable a few short months ago.
It’s a statement of intent from the new ownership.