As soon as the transfer window opened, one of the immediate priorities for Eddie Howe was continuing the search for a competent right-back who could fill in to relieve captain Kieran Trippier.
Real Valladolid youngster Ivan Fresneda looked like a promising option to fill that role, but Valladolid prefer the flexibility to sell the young defender while retaining him in Spain under a loan-back clause for the remainder of the season.
Newcastle’s sporting director Dan Ashworth has made the wise decision of passing on that option by the looks of it.
Matty Hewitt of The Chronicle is reporting that Newcastle are, in fact, moving on from Fresneda and about to agree on a fee with London-based club West Ham for the permanent transfer of Harrison Ashby to St James’ Park. If the reports are to be believed, the price would sit at around £3M, bonuses included.
Why all the fuss over a right-back? As I’ve written earlier this month, Trippier has accrued more minutes on the pitch (1,774) than any other outfield player this season.
Emil Krafth played admirably last season in a backup role but suffered a devastating knee injury last August in a Carabao Cup victory over Tranmere and is out for the season.
Trippier was the first arrival last January after the Toon stepped out of Mike Ashley’s long shadow. As made official just a few hours ago, his contract was extended into 2025, and his ability to stay on the field is priceless.
After a successful career at Tottenham and a career-defining spell under the tutelage of Diego “Cholo” Simeone at Atletico Madrid, he was the perfect blend of patience, experience, and skill that Howe needed to save Newcastle from relegation last season.
But all of those wonderful attributes mean nothing if he can’t stay on the field.
So, who is Harrison Ashby? Suffice it to say, Hammer fans will not be thrilled with his move to Tyneside. He was identified at 19 as a future star, with local outlets raving about his potential as early as 2021.
Fortunately for the Toon, the Hammers are in a relegation fight this year and David Moyes is the current betting favorite in the annual sacking race. The plan was probably to continue to nurture the youngster, but with Moyes fighting for survival needs to utilize all available resources to avoid the drop this season.
In other news, Dan Ashworth is revisiting a potential move for England International James Maddison as the window comes to a close. Ever since the World Cup break, the Leicester FC star has been sidelined with a mysterious knee injury. After signing a new right winger, they may be entertaining his exit before what seems to be an inevitable break-up this summer.
Personally, I think this move would be better suited for August as it would essentially force Allan Saint-Maximin out the door. Sadly, there has been more and more noise from his camp, clearly indicating his agent is looking for potential suitors as Newcastle continues to bring in reinforcements on the wing.
On the other hand, if Liverpool FC, Tottenham, and/or Chelsea miss out on the Champions League spots this season, his price could effectively double. Especially if the Frenchman tallies more goals upon his return in full.
I would love to see a few more opportunities for the X-Man to start on the left alongside Alexander Isak, but one also has to wonder if it might be the best moment to move for Maddison, a surefire and proven finisher.
What side do you fall on? Are you excited for Ashby to learn under the mentorship of Trippier if he ends up in Tyneside? What should be the final piece this January window? Let us know in the comments section below!