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James Maddison heading to London should shift Newcastle’s focus

NUFC might get back to pursuing RB Leipzig’s Dominik Szoboszlai

RB Leipzig v Eintracht Frankfurt - DFB Cup Final Photo by Maja Hitij/Getty Images

After it was reported here on Tuesday morning that Leicester City FC forward James Maddison appeared to be heading to London, Tottenham outlets later reported that he was in fact being acquired for a fee of around £40m.

While the purchase price is lower than the reported £55m Leicester were reportedly seeking, the leaked new salary Maddison would earn in London might rise from a base of £110k/week to £170k/week. That figure would make him the fifth-highest-paid player in Tottenham’s squad, something a little bit confounding.

Those figures clearly indicate why Newcastle Sporting Director Dan Ashworth chose to walk away, as that sum is almost 30% higher than the top of Newcastle’s squad. Anyone questioning Ashworth’s pragmatic approach needs only reference Ivan Perisic’s £178k/week contract through 2023-24. That being said, we covered Maddison’s impressive offensive output in an earlier comparison to forward prospects, and his 10 goals and 9 assists over 30 league matches stand out.

The focus now shifts to Hungary international and RB Leipzig midfielder/forward Dominik Szoboszlai, who is four years younger than Maddison at 22 and has been linked to the Magpies and Liverpool FC for a while now.

The youngster could conceivably fit in multiple positions in Howe’s offense and boasts strong set-piece skills that would complement Kieren Trippier and newcomer Sandro Tonali.

Where things might get tricky in negotiating for his services is Szoboszlai’s release clause expires July 15—or June 30 if you trust Fabrizio Romano. While it currently stands at €70m Euros (£60m), Leipzig are being smart and making sure they let every agent know their plan to demand the same price for an eventual sale, as the clause would get reactivated during the season and doesn’t disappear again until the January window.

While some believe that this move could complicate the sale of Szoboszlai because it would weaken the core of Leipzig, I disagree. This season was one of the best chances to jump up the Bundesliga ranks with a struggling Bayern Munich who barely finished the season on top of runner-up Borussia Dortmund, which are now €110m richer thanks to the sale of Jude Bellingham to Real Madrid.

Leipzig finished with a comfortable seven-point Champions League buffer, and they will be able to utilize the Red Bull backing to invest and finish within the top four again next season even if they lose some of their superstars who are ready to flourish in the Premier League.

Newcastle should remain vigilant in their quest for fair deals, but the reality is that Chelsea has begun rapidly selling players to Saudi Arabia to fund their next-season acquisitions.

With Ruben Loftus-Cheek headed to AC Milan for a reported £15m and Christian Pulisic on the chopping block, they will be back in the market for goal scorers. Likewise, Liverpool is quietly linked not only to Szoboszlai but also Celta Vigo’s Gabriel Veiga and Fenerbahce’s Arda Guler in order for them to occupy similar roles. Manchester United needs a midfield overhaul, but thankfully they appear ready to waste another all summer chasing Frenkie De Jong for the second consecutive year.

Meeting - 47th UEFA Ordinary Congress Photo by Gualter Fatia - UEFA/UEFA via Getty Images

As an interesting caveat, it’s flown under the radar that on Oct. 1, 2023, a new set of FIFA Regulations on player agents comes into play. Under the new rules, agents must have mandatory licensing, and there are additional restrictions on signing minors, among other administrative changes.

However, the most major change enacts a commission cap for FIFA agents. This cap is a maximum agent earning of 5% when the total gross financial compensation is under $200k, and only 3% when that total rises above the $200k threshold.

While there are sure to be more legal fights as the date comes closer, you can expect that the aforementioned 18-year-old phenom Arda Guler will most likely wait as he decides whether to find a new home this fall.

Worshipped by the Fenerbahce faithful who are demanding he give them one more season in Istanbul, his agent (who happens to be his father) is expecting an additional €18-20m in Supplemental Agent Fees. While litigation may raise the percentage above 3% before October hits, hopefully, there is some sort of resolution on a cap to avoid these kinds of ridiculous fees in the future.