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Have Newcastle turned their focus to France in pursuit of defensive players?

Harvey Barnes potential transfer continues to move slowly. Meanwhile, NUFC have set their eyes on Ligue 1.

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Argentina v France: Final - FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Photo by Marc Atkins/Getty Images

It’s been a dizzying week keeping track of the most recent rumors involving Newcastle targets this week, with most of the headlines dominated by the potential acquisition of Leicester City FC winger Harvey Barnes. There are dozens of different reports that indicate the price of the soon-to-be-former-Fox would fall somewhere between LCFC’s reported asking price of £40m and Newcastle’s initial offer of £25m.

What’s key to remember when you sift through all the headlines, is that “agree(d) to personal terms” essentially means nothing in the long run. That terminology essentially equates to saying “recipient club X will be able to afford the wages of potential signee Y.” However, as long as club X and club Z don’t agree to a deal for player Y, you can pretty much forget about anything being set in stone.

Follow one window of Manchester United or Tottenham Hotspur, two clubs with notoriously difficult front offices to deal with, and you’ll see this verbiage repeated almost daily with nothing coming to fruition. That being said, let’s look at some new faces popping up on the Magpie radar.

Olympique Lyonnais v Olympique de Marseille - Ligue 1 Photo by Jean Catuffe/Getty Images

One of the more surprising names starting to become more frequently linked with a move to St James’ Park is Lyon forward and France international Rayan Cherki. These links confused me at first because I remembered numerous reports after the January transfer window that indicated Real Madrid had some sort of future agreement with him already in place. After tracking down some of these reports, it’s apparent that the confusion stems from spurious headlines of “verbal agreements” between both parties.

Again, verbal agreements mean nothing in the constantly evolving world of football, which has seen almost a dozen high-profile Champions League-caliber footballers of myriad ages jump into the expanding Saudi Premier League.

Lyon finished in seventh place in the French top-flight division last season, out of Europe for the second consecutive year after a breakthrough 2020-21 campaign where a familiar character named Bruno Guimaraes led them to a fourth-place finish and into the following year’s Champions League. Sounds familiar?

With all the rumors linking Cherki to the EPL this summer, it’s clear that his agent is looking to get him into a new side with bigger aspirations than OL’s before next season.

Reports emerged on Wednesday linking Cherki to Chelsea FC, which actually makes some sense. The West London side has shed 10 high-profile players already this summer for a €220m+ net gain, not including the wages that will be saved next fall nor the imminent sale of Christian Pulisic to AC Milan getting finalized.

Cherki, who came through the Lyon Academy, was capped in 2021 by France and has already tallied 6 goals in 14 appearances at the international level. He typically focus on the attacking side of the game, usually as a central midfielder who tends to drift right when carrying the ball, turning into a winger long projections forward.

Coincidentally, multiple media outlets put together detailed pieces chronicling his rapid rise earlier this week. Cherki’s not a position of necessity right now for the Magpies, especially factoring that NUFC are walking the FFP line this summer and central midfield is now arguably the strongest section of the pitch, although it must be acknowledged that the Lyon player certainly makes for an interesting name considered by the club, nonetheless.


Another odd link appeared when Axel Disasi was suddenly tipped for a Newcastle bid. The 25-year-old center-back has physical dimensions similar to Sven Botman’s at 6-3, while he’s already registered four international caps for France, struggling to get time on the stacked French backline.

Disasi joined Ligue 1 side AS Monaco when the Monegasque signed him for €13m in 2020 from Reims, inking him to a five-year deal earning him a very affordable €720k annually (€13.8k/week).

Like fellow French club Lyon, Monaco fell out of the European spots after finishing last season in sixth place, down from a third-place finish the year prior.

With Botman as the undisputed first-selection center-back of Newcastle and Fabian Schar turning 32 this December, Eddie Howe may be considering bringing some depth to the position this summer already looking forward to a brighter and fresher future.

On the other hand, perhaps it’s easier (and cheaper) for Howe to upgrade from Matt Targett at the left-back slot if Dan Burn comes back to his natural CB positioning to play alongside Botman, making Schar a reserve and whoever comes to SJP the new left-back of the team.

Conventional logic suggests Howe will likely use his remaining transfer budget to upgrade one of the wings and/or to bring in some competition for Targett at left-back, but until that time expect more of the now-usual “Newcastle and Player X agree to personal terms” type of headlines to keep us on our toes until September.