Newcastle's second big signing of the summer looks to be on hold, if not scuppered entirely, with Aleksandar Mitrovic's father claiming that he is "waiting for another club." This club is the Portuguese giant FC Porto, who are allegedly willing to send a player to Anderlecht in addition to monetary compensation.
This is a late and unfortunate roadblock for Newcastle, who had looked certain to secure the signature of Anderlecht's 20-year-old, highly-rated Serbian forward. Agent Pini Zahavi had declared on Friday that Aleksandar's transfer would be confirmed within hours, and that "Mitrovic will sign a contract for five seasons for the former club of Philippe Albert." It's been hours since that statement, and with Mitrovic having not joined Charleroi, KV Mechelen, or Fulham - all of Albert's other former clubs - Porto's allure is likely causing Mitrovic to stall on agreeing terms with Newcastle
It's easy to see the temptation. FC Porto have finished in the top 3 of the Portuguese Primera Division in every season since 1976, and are regular participants in the Champions League. The list of players FC Porto have bought low and sold high on is almost endless, with Jackson Martinez and Eliaquim Mangala being some of the latest expensive departures from the Estádio do Dragão. A guaranteed European showcase and the promise of an eventual high-priced move out of Porto has to be incredibly appealing to Mitrovic (and particularly to his agent and father).
So what incentive does he have to sign for Newcastle? As appealing as playing with Mike Williamson and Gabriel Obertan is, we all know the Toon have their own track-record with flipping players, with Yohan Cabaye, Mathieu Debuchy, and Demba Ba all meeting (mostly) little resistance when a Champions League club came for their services. There's also the issue of competition. At FC Porto, Mitrovic will have to compete with Cristian Tello, Vincent Aboubakar, Adrian Lopez, and Ricardo Quaresma for a forward position in the starting 11. But with a League campaign, domestic cups, and European competition there will be ample opportunities, especially in comparison to Newcastle who will be competing in just the Premier League and their usual early round exits from the FA and Capital One Cups. But only Papiss Cisse, Ayoze Perez, and Siem De Jong would offer realistic competition to Mitrovic's bid for a starting spot, and perhaps the Serbian striker can be promised a more substantial role at Newcastle. At just 20 years old with somewhat proven Champions League experience, Steve McClaren could intend to build his Newcastle side around Mitrovic. For someone who enjoyed watching Alan Shearer as a boy, the opportunity to follow in the footsteps of a boring Match of the Day pundit could be enough to tempt Aleksandar to Tyneside.
Mitrovic is an #nufc 'fan' as he liked Alan Shearer as a child. That could be just enough to convince him to forgo European football.— Kristan Heneage (@KHeneage) July 11, 2015
Whether or not Mitrovic ends up wearing the famous Wonga shirt next season, it seems very unlikely that he'll be suiting up in the purple of Anderlecht. This picture of Aleksandar Mitrovic and fullback Chancel Mbemba was tweeted Saturday, with the caption translating to "two players leaving":
Finalizing a deal for Mitrovic would be a fantastic coup for the Toon, although other positions (left back, center back) need to be improved on before this transfer window can be considered wildly successful. With Wijnaldum and potentially Mitrovic, Mike Ashley seems to be making good on the promises to invest he made before the final match against West Ham last season. But time will tell whether this is an actual change in policy, or just more of the same "keep afloat" mentality that has existed at St. James' Park in the last five years.